Shanen M. Sherrer, assistant professor of biochemistry, is the lead author on a new research article with Nobel Laureate Paul Modrich in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their work shows the impact of cadmium exposure on human DNA mismatch repair (MMR). In particular, they discovered human MMR protein MutLα is inhibited by cadmium, which can lead to increased genetic mutations and cancer.
Studying the biological effects of toxic metals on DNA can help researchers better understand the processes of mutagenesis and carcinogenesis. This knowledge is needed to improve environmental safety regulations and to develop treatments for different forms of cancer. Sherrer said this work was very rigorous due to the technical and quantitative skills needed for the study, but it establishes a foundation for her research at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
The full paper can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1807319115. Current students in the Sherrer Lab are investigating cadmium’s impact on several DNA repair proteins across two different DNA repair systems.