Columbia University Medical Center

DNA Repair Proteins Light Up Columbia Crown

These blue dots are not the latest innovation in holiday lighting technology. But they do come from some of the latest technological innovations at Columbia’s Center for Radiological Research and its Radiological Research Accelerator Facility.

The image shows off the capabilities of RARAF’s “UV Microspot,” a laser irradiator designed at RARAF to deliver UV radiation to precise, submicron-sized locations inside single cells. (A micron is about 1/100th the width of a human hair, or about 1/10th the width of a single grain of pollen.)

RARAF researchers and visiting scientists from around the world use a variety of micron and submicron microbeams and microspots to observe a cell’s response to damage caused by radiation. Damage to a cell’s DNA can lead to cancer – unless the cell can repair the damage.

The 59 dots in the Columbia crown represent hundreds of DNA repair proteins (labeled with a molecule that glows) that have migrated to 59 spots of DNA damage inside the nucleus of a single cell. The DNA repair proteins in this image are called XRCC1, which may have a role in causing cancer when they do not function properly.

To learn more about the UV Microspot, visit the RARAF website.

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