When generating new cells, cells copy their genetic materials into daughter cells which are in DNA by duplicating. In this duplicating process new set of DNA is generated using the previous set of DNA as a template. When producing proteins using genetic information which are in genes in DNA, initially DNA should be converted into mRNA and mRNA acts as a messenger molecule. Polymerases involve in this process. But scientists thought that polymerase only works in one direction DNA into DNA or RNA. They thought that polymerase can’t convert RNA back into DNA. For the first time in world history researchers at Thomas Jefferson University provide the very first evidence which confirms that RNA segments can be turned back into DNA by challenging the central dogma in biology.

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Because of these findings now scientists have started their new researches in this field and according to their view, these findings will make a huge turn in the field of biology. Scientists say in near future they can use RNA messages to regenerate the genes of an organism. Definitely, this is going to be an evolution in the field of genetic engineering as well.

RNA to DNA Founders

Gurushankae Chandramouly, Dr. Pomerantz and other collaborators study the deep about a very unusual polymerase called polymerase theta. Although there are 14 polymerases in mammalian cells, only three polymerases contribute to the bulk duplication of a cell’s DNA in a new cell division. Other 11 polymerases involve to detect and repair the places with errors in the DNA strands and this will prevent improper mutations inside a cell. Although polymerase theta repairs the places with errors, it’s not going to do it in a better way because it makes many errors and mutations. When conducting more experiments about polymerase theta, scientists found that polymerase theta has been shared some bad characters of it with another cellular mechanism. When considering HIV reverse transcriptase, it acts as a DNA polymerase, but it can also bind with RNA and turn RNA into a DNA strand.

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Scientists did a series of experiments and in these experiments, they tested polymerase theta against the reverse transcriptase from HIV. This series of experiments can be considered as the best experiments done by the scientist about this process. Finally, they could show that polymerase theta has the ability to convert RNA messages into DNA. When converting RNA templates into DNA, polymerase theta acted in an efficient way and there were fewer errors in this process of converting.


Using X-ray crystallography scientists were able to define the structure and they found that molecules can change their shape in order to accommodate bulky RNA molecules. After these experiments researchers explained, acting as reverse transcriptase is the main function of polymerase theta. In cancer cells polymerase theta is highly expressed and promotes cancer cell growth and drug resistance.

Nowadays researchers are working further on these new findings and they say this is going to be an outbreak in biology in near future.

Feature image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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