Epigenetic regulation required to ensure correct number of chromosomes

Feb 16, 2014

Abnormal number of chromosomes is often associated with cancer development. In a new study published in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have shown that a subtle epigenetic change plays an important role in the correct segregation of chromosomes.

Normally when a cell divides, the chromosomes are segregated equally to two . However, tumour cells frequently have either too few or too many chromosomes, leading to the incorrect expression of a number of genes. When a cell is about to divide, the machinery takes hold of chromosomes by the centromere so that they may be pulled apart and one copy of each given to the daughter cells.

In the current study, researchers have shown that an epigenetic process, involving the attachment of a small protein to the histone H2B (called H2Bub1), facilitates an important structural change of the centromere immediately prior to cell division. It was previously shown that enzymes that modify histone H2B in this way also play a role in protecting against cancer. This was previously linked to defects in chromosomal repair.

"Our study confirms this role for H2Bub1, but we are extending it to include another mechanism that directly leads to the incorrect number of in cells," says Peter Svensson at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, one of the researchers who conducted the study.

The researchers behind the new study say that the fact that this mechanism is highly similar in and suggests that it plays a key role in ensuring proper chromosome distribution following each cell division. The research has been funded by the Swedish Research Council, and the Swedish Cancer Society.

Explore further: Cell division finding could boost understanding of cancer

More information: "Centromeric histone H2B monoubiquitination promotes noncoding transcription and chromatin integrity", Laia Sadeghi, Lee Siggens, J Peter Svensson & Karl Ekwall, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, online 16 February 2013, doi.org/10.1038/nsmb.2776

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What makes cell division accurate?

Jan 23, 2014

As all school-children learn, cells divide using a process called mitosis, which consists of a number of phases during which duplicate copies of the cell's DNA-containing chromosomes are pulled apart and ...

Impaired cell division leads to neuronal disorder

Jan 31, 2014

Prof. Erich Nigg and his research group at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel have discovered an amino acid signal essential for error-free cell division. This signal regulates the number of centrosomes ...

New application of physics tools used in biology

Feb 07, 2014

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist and his colleagues have found a new application for the tools and mathematics typically used in physics to help solve problems in biology.

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 ...

Recommended for you

Molecular gate that could keep cancer cells locked up

15 hours ago

In a study published today in Genes & Development, Dr Christian Speck from the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre's DNA Replication group, in collaboration with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), New York, ...

The 'memory' of starvation is in your genes

18 hours ago

During the winter of 1944, the Nazis blocked food supplies to the western Netherlands, creating a period of widespread famine and devastation. The impact of starvation on expectant mothers produced one of the first known ...

Sugar mimics guide stem cells toward neural fate

Jul 30, 2014

Embryonic stem cells can develop into a multitude of cells types. Researchers would like to understand how to channel that development into the specific types of mature cells that make up the organs and other structures of ...

User comments : 0