Cell division discovery could offer fresh insight into cancer

Jan 14, 2014

New findings on how the cells in our bodies are able to renew themselves could aid our understanding of health disorders, including cancer.

Scientists have explained a key part of the process of , by which cells are able to keep our organs functioning properly.

They discovered a set of proteins that stabilise the sequence of events in which cells duplicate their DNA and then separate into two new cells, each identical to the original. Flaws in this delicate, complex operation can lead to cancer.

The findings help explain a fundamental process in all living things, in which cells must continually divide to keep the organism alive and well.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found that a set of proteins, known as the Ska complex, help anchor DNA, the form of chromosomes, by interacting with strands of cell material. Chromosomes remain attached to these strands as they are separated, in a process that helps distribute DNA correctly to the newly formed cells.

Scientists determined the structure of the relevant part of the protein complex by analysing crystals of it with lab tools and cell-based experiments. This showed how the Ska complex attaches to the strands, helping to bind the DNA material.

The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out in collaboration with the University of Basel, Technische Universität Berlin, and the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi and funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Dr JP Arulanandam, of the University of Edinburgh's School of Biological Sciences, who led the work, said: "Our findings represent a milestone in resolving the mystery of how these key proteins enable new to separate properly and equally, in this essential process for life. The findings of our work have the potential to create new avenues in drug discovery towards fighting ."

Explore further: How to reset a diseased cell

Related Stories

Cell memory mechanism discovered

Aug 15, 2013

The cells in our bodies can divide as often as once every 24 hours, creating a new, identical copy. DNA binding proteins called transcription factors are required for maintaining cell identity. They ensure that daughter cells ...

Rewiring stem cells

Jan 09, 2014

A fast and comprehensive method for determining the function of genes could greatly improve our understanding of a wide range of diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, liver disease and cancer.

Recommended for you

'Zombie' bacteria found able to kill other bacteria

2 hours ago

(Phys.org)—A trio of researchers with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found that bacteria that die as a result of silver poisoning can serve as a means to continue to kill other bacteria in the same ...

Students participate in huge research study on tiny viruses

3 hours ago

A new study appearing this week in the scientific journal eLIFE about the rapid evolution of small viruses that infect bacteria includes 59 University of Colorado Boulder co-authors, all of whom conducted research for th ...

How to reset a diseased cell

May 01, 2015

In proof-of-concept experiments, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine demonstrate the ability to tune medically relevant cell behaviors by manipulating a key hub in cell communication networks. ...

Mechanisms for continually producing sperm

May 01, 2015

Continually producing sperm over a long time is important to procreate the next generation. Researchers of the National Institute for Basic Biology, National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan, Ms. Kanako ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.