The 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been jointly won by Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar for “mechanistic studies of DNA repair". Their research explains how a cell repairs its DNA in order to prevent errors occurring in the genetic information.
During his work with bacterial DNA, Tomas Lindahl discovered the enzymes responsible for base excision repair.
Aziz Sancar was able to map the mechanism used by the majority of cells to repair UV damage i.e. nucleotide excision repair.
Paul Modrich mapped out the enzymes responsible for DNA mismatch repair which turned out to be a major process for protecting DNA.
The repair mechanisms discovered by all three Nobel laureates fix thousands of DNA faults that occur during cell division or by exposure to UV damage and other toxic substances. Without this repair ‘toolkit’, our genome would be riddled with errors that are capable of causing cancer.
Whilst E. coli played a major role in discovering these mechanisms, research in mice also played a part in the discovery of DNA repair.