Magnar Bjørås' group Cellular responses to DNA damage
The Laboratory for Molecular Biology investigates basic biological processes associated with cellular responses to DNA damage including DNA repair pathways and mechanism for tolerance, scavenging and adaptation. Focus has been on the repair of endogenous DNA damage and mechanisms for removal of base damage to DNA. At the cellular and organismal level, the aim is to understand mechanisms for genome maintenance in mammalian as well as microbial cells and to develop new interventions for preventing cancer and neurological disease associated with genome instability caused by DNA damage.
Cellular genomes are continuously challenged by physical, chemical and biological agents that introduce changes of the chemical structure of the DNA. Intracellular reactive metabolites such as reactive oxygen species and alkylating compounds are important inducers of such changes. Nevertheless, mutation frequencies are low because of very efficient pathways for DNA repair and DNA recombination, which remove DNA damage and conserve at least one functional copy of the genome. Nevertheless, in humans, DNA damage will induce genome instability that is associated with disease and degenerative disorders. Challenges are to understand the mechanisms for cellular protection against DNA damage and its role in cancer, ageing and neurological disease.