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!
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy