Spring 2023


Telomeres on a chromosome. AJC1/Flickr, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


How Telomeres Stay Tidy

Telomeres provide vital protection for the ends of human chromosomes. However, these defensive caps degrade over time through the process of cell division. This degradation can lead to cellular dysfunction unless the telomeres are properly maintained. Scientists have long known that an enzyme called Polα-primase plays a key role in this maintenance operation, says assistant professor of biochemistry Ci Ji Lim. But the underlying mechanisms have remained elusive — until now.

An advanced imaging technique called cryo-electron microscopy single-particle analysis has changed the game. Lim and his team used the method to discover how Polα-primase works in conjunction with a protein complex called CST to maintain telomeres and preserve the integrity of DNA. Their study, a big breakthrough in understanding DNA synthesis, was published in the August 2022 issue of Nature.

Lack of Civility Erodes Trust in Science

When science is covered in the news, it can sometimes become contentious. Research has found that the disagreement and incivility surrounding science news can affect people’s attitudes about the topics covered. A recent Science Communication study, coauthored by assistant professor of life sciences communication Sedona Chinn, reinforces this idea by showing incivility may cause news consumers to pay less attention to science issues — or even be less likely to accept them. Perhaps more alarming, the study also found that incivility can lead to increased mistrust of scientists and scientific methods.

Read about more CALS research on the CALS News page.

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