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Promising new tool shows how dividing cells finish what they start

in mammalian cells that a cell uses the same cellular machinery to finish as it uses to start division, which had been shown earlier in yeast. Specifically, when they blocked that machinery proteosomes, which destroy key proteins as a necessary step in many cell functions the cell was unable to complete cell division.

In the other finding, the researchers identified a few of the molecular details that the microtubules use to signal the time and location of cleavage between cells after they pull the duplicated chromosomes apart. The signals between the microtubules and the cell membrane diverge into two pathways, one that signals myosin and a second unknown pathway that positions another protein (anillin) needed for the final stage of cell division.

"A complex network of signaling from microtubules to the cell membrane tells the cell both when and where to divide," Straight said. "The same thing that is pulling chromosomes apart is making sure that cells divide in the proper place so that the genetic material gets equally segregated into the two daughter cells."

Blebbistatin was discovered by screening 17,000 small molecules in the chemical library of the HMS Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology, co-directed by Timothy Mitchison, HMS Hasib Sabbagh professor of cell biology and co-author of the paper.

Co-authors include: Amy Cheung, visiting scientist from Merck; John Limouze, student, and James Sellers, chief of the Cell Motility Lab, both at the National Health Lung and Blood Institute; Irene Chen, student at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Nick Westwood, assistant professor of chemistry at University of St. Andrews, Scotland.


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Contact: John Lacey
public_affairs@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0442
Harvard Medical School
13-Mar-2003


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