A research team has discovered a new mechanism for cell fate determination -- how one cell, the daughter, becomes dramatically different from the mother, even though they have the same genetic material. The study shows why mothers and daughters differ in how they express their genes.
The results of this research will be published in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal PLoS Biology.
By studying yeast, whose entire genome is known, scientists can learn the basics of cell division and apply that knowledge to the human system. Many of the fundamental mechanisms for cell division in yeast are conserved, or very similar, in mammals; many of the proteins involved in human disease are related to proteins that are involved in yeast cell division.
The new knowledge about cell fate determination could lead to a better understanding of healthy human cells, what goes awry in cancer cells and how human stem cells and germ cells work.
"Cancer may reflect a partial and aberrant loss of differentiated character, in which cells that were formerly specified to perform a specific task 'forget' that, and become more like the rapidly dividing stem cells from which they came," said Eric L. Weiss, assistant professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. Weiss led the research team, which included scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Understanding how differentiated states are specified might help us figure out how to remind cancer cells to go back to their original tasks or fates -- or, more likely, die."
When a yeast cell divides it produces a mother cell and a smaller, different daughter cell. The daughter cell is the one that actually performs the final act of separation, cutting its connection to the mother cell. And the daughter takes longer than the mother to begin the next cycle of division, since it needs time to grow up.
The key to the researchers' discovery of how this differentiation works is the gene regulator Ace2, a protein that directly turns genes on. The researchers found that the protein gets trapped in the nucleus of the daughter cell, turning on genes that make daughter different from mother.
The team is the first to show that the regulator is trapped because a signaling pathway (a protein kinase called Cbk1) turns on and blocks Ace2 from interacting with the cell's nuclear export machinery. Without this specific block, the machinery would move the regulator out of the nucleus, and the daughter cell would be more motherlike -- not as different.
"Daughter-cell gene expression is special, and now we know why," said Weiss.
The researchers also found that the differentiation of the mother cell and daughter cell -- this trapping of the regulator in the daughter nucleus -- occurs while the two cells are still connected.
Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.
Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Event News
19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering