Volume 90 Issue 12 | p. 36 | Concentrates
Issue Date: March 19, 2012

Controlling Cell Division’s Last Step

Researchers track down the protein responsible for putting the brakes on key biochemical process
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Biological SCENE
Keywords: cell division
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A fluorescence image shows CHMP4C (lime green), the protein that acts as a checkpoint in the final stages of cell division, located on a strand of the protein tubulin (red).
Credit: Science
This fluorescence image shows the protein CHMP4C (lime green) located on a strand of the proteins tubulin (red). CHMP4C acts as a checkpoint in the final stages of cell division.
 
A fluorescence image shows CHMP4C (lime green), the protein that acts as a checkpoint in the final stages of cell division, located on a strand of the protein tubulin (red).
Credit: Science
When cells split in two, a protein called CHMP4C brakes the separation until the cell can double check that chromosomes have been properly segregated to the two daughter cells.
Credit: Science

Before a cell divides in two, it must ensure that the 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 can 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, because cell division occurs unchecked in this disease. 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. His team found that when one of the proteins (CHMP4C) in this complex becomes phosphorylated, the final separation of the 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 had thought CHMP4C was a green light forward, but it turns out that CHMP4C is actually a brake, he says.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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