Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New light shed on cell division

Date:
June 14, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A new study has yielded insights into how chromosomes separate when a cell divides. Centromeres, located in the little pinched waist of each chromosome, control the movements that separate sister chromosomes when cells divide ensuring that each daughter cell inherits a complete copy of each chromosome -- and researchers have visualized how the parts of centromeres assemble themselves as human cells grow and divide.

Genes control everything from eye color to disease susceptibility, and inheritance -- the passing of the genes from generation to generation after they have been duplicated -- depends on centromeres. Located in the little pinched waist of each chromosome, centromeres control the movements that separate sister chromosomes when cells divide ensuring that each daughter cell inherits a complete copy of each chromosome. It has long been known that centromeres are not formed solely from DNA; rather, centromere proteins (CENPs) facilitate the assembly of a centromere on each chromosome. Understanding how a protein structure can be copied with enough precision to be stable, generation after generation, has been a mystery.

Researchers at the Centre for Chromosome Biology in Galway, Ireland, led by Professor Kevin Sullivan, have visualized these proteins in living cells to analyse how the parts of centromeres assemble themselves as human cells grow and divide. Their new study will be published on 14 June in the online, open access journal PloS Biology.

The Galway group used fluorescent labeling methods to observe the duplication of CENPs on the chromosomes in live cells under the microscope. They also watched how chromosome movement goes awry during cell division when key CENPs were removed from the cell. By comparing how different CENPs are made and then packaged on chromosomes, lead researcher Dr Lisa Prendergast discovered an essential division of labor among the CENPs. A key protein known as CENP-A seems to be specialized for carrying the genetic information of the centromere. Molecular cousins known as CENPs -T and -W assemble beside CENP-A along the chromosome fiber only after DNA has been replicated. They then go on to do the 'heavy lifting' involved in motoring chromosomes through cell division by producing a structure known as the kinetochore.

It is known that chromosomes inherit more information than is carried in the genes -- the field of epigenetics is the study of how a single set of genes can be used to make over 200 different types of cell that make up the body. The centromere is a very special epigenetic element, in which identity itself is carried outside the DNA. This new study provides important experimental and conceptual tools that will help illuminate broader questions about how epigenetics works in normal development and in disease. But because the centromere works at the heart of cell division, it has special relevance in the fight against cancer. Many chemotherapy drugs act by stopping cell division, but their targets also have other roles in the cell, leading to toxic effects in the nervous system and in the rapidly growing cells of hair and skin, for example. "By understanding the inner workings of this molecular machine at a deeper level, we can now think of how to build drugs that target cancer cell division with much greater precision," says Professor Sullivan. "It's important to see how basic research, aimed solely at understanding how life works, can contribute new ideas that support progress in medicine and therapeutics."

By clearly separating genetic inheritance from kinetochore function into different domains on the chromosome fiber, research into cell division and how to stop it in cancer cells can now take place at an accelerated pace.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Prendergast L, van Vuuren C, Kaczmarczyk A, Doering V, Hellwig D, et al. Premitotic Assembly of Human CENPs -T and -W Switches Centromeric Chromatin to a Mitotic State. PLoS Biol, 9(6): e1001082 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001082

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "New light shed on cell division." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614203619.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, June 14). New light shed on cell division. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614203619.htm
Public Library of Science. "New light shed on cell division." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110614203619.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — The new drug from Novartis could reduce cardiovascular deaths by 20 percent compared to other similar drugs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins