Web Date: March 15, 2012
Splitting Cells In Two
Before a cell divides in two, it must ensure that the new daughter cell possesses correctly copied DNA as well as essential organelles and cytoplasm. Researchers have now pinpointed the protein that acts as a checkpoint before the final split is allowed to occur (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.12171180).
In addition to illuminating how the essential biological process of cell division is controlled, the discovery may also provide insights into cancer, a disease in which cell division occurs unchecked.
The final physical separation of cells is orchestrated by a complex of about seven or eight proteins, says Juan Martin-Serrano of King’s College London School of Medicine, in England. His team found that when one of the proteins (called CHMP4C) in this complex is phosphorylated, the final separation of two cells is stalled. Cells use this checkpoint as an opportunity to ensure chromosome segregation has taken place without error, he adds.
“This is quite a surprising finding,” comments Harald Stenmark, a biochemist at Oslo University Hospital, in Norway. Researchers in the field had thought CHMP4C was a positive regulator—that is, a green light forward, Stenmark explains, but “it turns out that CHMP4C does the opposite—it’s actually a brake.”
- Chemical & Engineering News
- ISSN 0009-2347
- Copyright © American Chemical Society