Who is Aziz Sancar? Biography and life of Aziz Sancar

Who is Aziz Sancar?

Aziz Sancar, a Turkish scientist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, continues his useful work on behalf of humanity. Here is the biography of Saint Sancar...

Aziz Sancar was born in 1946 in Savur, Mardin, as the seventh child of a middle-income family engaged in farming. He completed his primary and secondary education in Savur except for the second grade of primary school he studied in Ankara. He attended high school in Mardin. He later graduated from Istanbul University Faculty of Medicine with a first degree.

He studied biochemistry for a few years in the USA, where he went on a TUBITAK scholarship, but he returned to his home country due to some social adjustment problems and worked as a physician in his home town of Savur for a while. But his heart was still in scientific studies.

So he went back to the United States to pursue a Ph. D. in Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Aziz Sancar, who continued his postdoctoral research at Yale University, made some very important discoveries here. For his achievements, he also received offers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the United States.

He continued his studies there with the same speed and care and again made important discoveries. Aziz Sancar, who received many awards during his nearly forty-year research career, was eventually awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his inventions on DNA repair mechanisms.


Developing The Maxicell Method

Bacteria may contain smaller ring-like DNA molecules called plasmids, apart from their chromosomes. Plasmids have been used as an important tool in Molecular Biology.

Aziz Sancar developed the Maxicell method in which the chromosome inside the bacterial cell is destroyed by the effect of UV rays and the plasmid is left intact and alone in the cell. In this way, for example, genes transferred to plasmids and their protein products can be examined without interfering with the bacteria's own genes and proteins. Aziz Sancar originally developed this method to purify enzymes involved in DNA repair, but the method has been published in the literature and Aziz Sancar's related article has received over 1000 citations. The term Maxicell has also entered the Oxford Dictionary of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

His discoveries regarding the enzyme photoliasis

During his doctoral work at the University of Texas, Aziz Sancar introduced the enzyme photoliasis, which repairs DNA damaged by UV (ultraviolet) radiation in bacteria

he was able to clone the coding gene, that is, obtain it separately from the genome, as well as enable the bacterium to produce this enzyme extra. But then

he had to shelve this work. Years later he returned to this enzyme, clarifying the mechanism by which photoliasis in the bacterium repairs DNA.

He also helped demonstrate that a human counterpart to photoliasis plays a role in the processing of the biological body clock, called the kirkadian clock.

Nucleotide Cut-Out Repair Mechanism To Elucidate

This is one of his inventions that, as Aziz Sancar put it, “makes you feel the greatest satisfaction and the serenity that he rarely finds.” Although this repair mechanism was discovered in 1964, its details could not be worked out.

The 12 nucleotides around these nucleotides are removed from the damaged nucleotides in the bacterial DNA.

he discovered he had cut it out. Sancar also investigated the version of this repair that took place in humans. In humans, the situation was a little more complicated. Through a test he developed, Aziz Sancar found how 27 nucleotides around damaged nucleotides in DNA in humans were cut and discarded, and how the “right” nucleotides were placed in this gap. He discovered that this mechanism works with 16 proteins synthesized by 16 genes. Aziz Sancar was awarded the Nobel Prize specifically for his achievements in this regard. Sancar also released an entire map of DNA repair genes in the human genome with his team in May 2015.

Explanation of transcription-dependent DNA repair mechanism

Aziz Sancar describes his discovery as “beautiful in biochemistry, beautiful in data, beautiful in presentation” and also says “Yunus Emre saga”. When repairing damage to DNA, for example, the protein synthesized section is repaired more effectively and faster than the non-synthesized section. This was known, but its mechanism could not be solved. Transcription is the synthesis of an intermediary molecule called RNA in the process of synthesizing a protein in accordance with the code in the gene of the protein.

Thus, the information of the gene is transferred to the RNA. The Protein is also synthesized according to the code in RNA. Sancar and his assistant explained the entire mechanism in a single article by purifying the enzyme that began transcription-induced DNA repair and unraveling its mechanism.

Discovery of Molecular mediator in Protein-DNA binding

Aziz Sancar made another contribution to science as a result of his research on protein-DNA binding, which is one of the most fundamental issues of Molecular Biology, and introduced the concept of “molecular mediator protein” into the literature. Sancar found that proteins can bind to DNA in the body, but that doesn't happen under laboratory conditions, in an experimental tube. So he realized that in order for the protein to bind to the DNA, in fact, another protein had to enter the circuit, and he called it the “molecular mediator”. Molecular mediating proteins modify the three-dimensional structure of the protein to bind to DNA, thus creating a semi-stable DNA-protein complex. After binding occurs, the mediator protein leaves this complex.

His discoveries on cryptochrome and biological clock

In May 1996, Sancar read an article about jet lag in a magazine on a plane en route from Turkey to the United States. This article heralded his sixth significant contribution to science. The biological clock, a 24-hour internal clock found in many living things, plays a role in the regulation of various metabolic events in the human body. When Sancar read the article, he considered photoliasis-like genes that show no DNA repair activity in humans. Because the photoliase enzyme in bacteria is affected by light, he came up with the idea that proteins encoded with photoliase-like genes in humans could be related to our biological clock, which is compatible with the daylight cycle.

Only a single biological clock gene was known at the time. Sancar photoliasis-like gave this gene the name cryptochrome (CRY). His first paper on this topic was published only as a hypothesis. The sequence proved this hypothesis. He observed that the biological clock was disrupted when it formed mutations in the CRY1 and CRY2 genes. Then other researchers working on this topic discovered other biological clock genes. His discovery of the biological clock earned Aziz Sancar second place in Science magazine's molecule of the Year competition in 1998.


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