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New insight into cell division

This press release is also available in German.

When cells divide, control mechanisms ensure that the genetic material, in other words the chromosomes, is correctly distributed to the daughter cells. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have now explained the molecular principles of these control processes. The so-called checkpoint kinases, i.e. the enzymes which perform this controlling, are not directly associated only with the chromosomes, as was previously assumed to be the case. On the contrary, they interact with a different category of proteins which are involved in the development of the cell division spindle. This finding is highly significant, since incorrect distribution of the chromosomes can lead to abnormalities and diseases such as cancer. The new understanding of this process will in turn promote a better understanding of the molecular principles of the development of cancer (Science, October 27, 2006).

The rod-shaped filaments of the microtubules are responsible for dividing the chromosomes in a cell. They form a connection between the starting point in the chromosomes, the kinetochors, and the centrosome. The centrosome organizes the spindle-shaped arrangement of the microtubule filaments in the cell by means of gamma tubulin ring complexes. Until now it was assumed that control of even distribution of chromosomes was only monitored by the checkpoint kinases in the kinetochors. When microtubules are correctly attached to the kinetochors, these kinases then inform the cell that a precise distribution of chromosomes can be carried out.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have now discovered that the checkpoint kinases are also associated with the gamma tubulin ring complex proteins. Accordingly, the researchers have proved that these checkpoint kinases als
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Contact: Dr. Bodo M. H. Lange
Lange_B@molgen.mpg.de
49-308-413-1645
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
27-Oct-2006


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