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Life Science Zurich Communication & Events

A hygiene program for chromosomes

Cell biologists at ETH Zurich describe a new organelle present in mammalian cells that is made of rings of DNA. This “mini-​organ” could potentially play a role in autoimmune diseases, and it could help researchers to understand how cell nuclei evolved.

Almost like a moon in a planet, the exclusome (yellow-​green dot) lies in the cytoplasm near the nucleus (blue). (Photograph: Schenkel L. et al. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2023)

In brief

  • Researchers identified and characterized a new cellular compartment in vertebrate cells termed “exclusome” that might be a precursor of today’s eucaryotic nucleus.
  • The study reveals that mammalian cells recognize, cluster, sort and keep extrachromosomal DNA - like transfected plasmid DNA and endogenous circular DNAs originating from telomeres of the chromosome - away from chromosomal DNA.
  • That suggests that there is a cell autonomous genome defense system.

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