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Scientists identify driving forces in human cell division

Date:
March 14, 2010
Source:
Marine Biological Laboratory
Summary:
Using a novel imaging system for quantifying aspects of cell division in three dimensions, scientists have discovered new interactions between sister kinetochores -- the protein bundles at the contact point between the two identical strands of a chromosome -- and the microtubule motors that help pull the strands apart.

Metaphase in a human cervical carcinoma (HeLa) cell. Chromosomes (red), microtubules (green).
Credit: Jason Swedlow, University of Dundee

If you can imagine identical twin sisters at rest, their breath drawing them subtly together and apart, who somehow latch onto ropes that pull them to opposite sides of the bed -- you can imagine what happens to a chromosome in the dividing cell.

Understanding the forces that drive chromosome segregation -- a crucial aspect of human development and some diseases, including cancer -- is the goal of an international group of researchers who collaborate each summer at the MBL.

In a paper recently published in the Journal of Cell Biology, the group describes newly discovered interactions between sister kinetochores -- the protein bundles at the contact point between the two identical strands of a chromosome -- and microtubules, the "ropes" that attach to the kinetochores to pull the strands apart.

To do this, the group developed a novel pipeline for preparing and photographing dividing human cells, as well as computational image analysis to quantify the interplay of sister kinetochores in three dimensions.

"We believe we have developed new methods and gained insights that simply aren't available anywhere else. We couldn't have done this work anywhere except at the MBL," says Jason Swedlow, a professor at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Swedlow's MBL collaborators on this work, which will continue in future summers, include scientists from the laboratories of Prof. Gaudenz Danuser (Harvard Medical School), Dr. Patrick Meraldi (ETH Zurich, Switzerland), and Dr. Andrew McAinsh (Marie Curie Research Institute, England). The group is known as the MBL Kinetochore Consortium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Marine Biological Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jaqaman et al. Kinetochore alignment within the metaphase plate is regulated by centromere stiffness and microtubule depolymerases. The Journal of Cell Biology, 2010; 188 (5): 665 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200909005

Cite This Page:

Marine Biological Laboratory. "Scientists identify driving forces in human cell division." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310091652.htm>.
Marine Biological Laboratory. (2010, March 14). Scientists identify driving forces in human cell division. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310091652.htm
Marine Biological Laboratory. "Scientists identify driving forces in human cell division." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100310091652.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

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