Biologists identify proteins vital to chromosome segregation

Dec 24, 2012

New York University biologists have identified how a vital protein is loaded by others into the centromere, the part of the chromosome that plays a significant role in cell division. Their findings shed new light on genome replication and may offer insights into the factors behind the production of abnormal numbers of chromosomes.

Their findings appear in the latest issue of the journal the .

The researchers focused on the organization and functioning of the centromere, which is responsible for chromosome segregation—a process that ensures that replicating cells receive a complete copy of the genome. Disruption of this process can lead to the production of an abnormal number of —a condition evident in 90 percent of cancer cases.

To explore the mechanics of the centromere, the researchers examined fission yeast. This species of yeast is a in because its chromosome replication and the regulation of its centromere are similar to that of humans.

In the PNAS study, the researchers focused on a protein, CENP-A, present in both humans and . They specifically examined how it is incorporated into the centromere during cell division in order to better understand its role in this process.

Their results identified that a trio of proteins—Dos1, Dos2, and Cdc20—work together to assemble CENP-A at centromeres as they duplicate. They further observed that any disruption of this process subsequently places this vital protein outside of the centromere—thereby preventing it from performing its role of ensuring proper chromosome segregation.

"CENP-A is the engineer of the centromere," explained Fei Li, an assistant professor in NYU's Department of Biology and the study's senior author. "Without this protein, the centromere simply can't function."

Li noted that many forms of cancer have been linked to malfunctioning CENP-A.

"Hopefully, these findings can contribute toward the development of improved strategies for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer," he added.

Explore further: For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

Related Stories

Chromosome centromeres are inherited epigenetically

Nov 03, 2011

Centromeres are specialised regions of the genome, which can be identified under the microscope as the primary constriction in X-shaped chromosomes. The cell skeleton, which distributes the chromosomes to ...

New light shed on cell division

Jun 14, 2011

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 ...

Portuguese scientists working on chromosome segregation

Jul 01, 2009

Lars Jansen's work on the formation of the centromere, a key cellular structure in powering and controlling chromosome segregation and accurate cell division, has just earned him a paper in Nature Cell Bi ...

Recommended for you

For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

14 hours ago

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these ...

Adventurous bacteria

15 hours ago

To reproduce or to conquer the world? Surprisingly, bacteria also face this problem. Theoretical biophysicists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have now shown how these organisms should ...

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

18 hours ago

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

More vets turn to prosthetics to help legless pets

A 9-month-old boxer pup named Duncan barreled down a beach in Oregon, running full tilt on soft sand into YouTube history and showing more than 4 million viewers that he can revel in a good romp despite lacking ...

Robotics goes micro-scale

(Phys.org) —The development of light-driven 'micro-robots' that can autonomously investigate and manipulate the nano-scale environment in a microscope comes a step closer, thanks to new research from the ...