Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Joining forces to unveil cell division

A European team led by scientists in Vienna presents a database for cell cycle control

The EU-funded project MitoCheck, which started in 2004, has now been successfully rounded off. Eleven European research teams and companies, coordinated by the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna, studied the genetic basis of cell division. The findings are published today in the scientific journals Science and Nature.

How does one cell become two, two cells become four, and finally develop into an entire organism? This question has puzzled biologists for the past 150 years, ever since they knew that living beings are made up of cells produced by repeated divisions, all originating from one fertilized egg. How exactly this process is controlled has remained a mystery. Researchers led by Jan-Michael Peters at the IMP have now come much closer to solving the puzzle.

Although it has long been possible to watch dividing cells under a microscope, scientists did not know exactly which genes are involved in the process and how. They knew even less about the role of the proteins encoded by these genes. To fill the gaps, eleven European research teams and companies joined forces to reveal the molecular basis of human cell division. The project "MitoCheck" was coordinated by the IMP and received 8.6 Million Euros of funding from the European Commission. The results of the combined effort have now been published.

In order to find out which genes are involved in cell division, the group of Jan Ellenberg at EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg) had to systematically inactivate each and every human gene - in total 22 000 - in cultured cells. Using video microscopy, the scientists then made movies of the cells to find out whether and how these gene inactivations affected cell division. As a next step, the group of Jan-Michael Peters then analyzed how the proteins encoded by these genes assembled to form molecular machines that control the different steps of cell division.

The result of this international teamwork is the first catalogue of all human genes required for cell division. The researchers have also come up with the blueprint for many of the molecular machines which carry out the instructions laid down in the genes. All data are now made available for public use by means of a database of the human genome ( At the same time, the MitoCheck-team has published the most relevant results in the two journals Science and Nature. 1) 2)

"Our database is going to be an important source of information for many areas of biomedical research. It is also a good example of how the complex and ambitious issues in science can only be addressed in a joint international effort", says project coordinator Jan-Michael Peters. MitoCheck represents not only a milestone for understanding cell division, but will prove very useful for other disciplines in the life sciences. The work of MitoCheck has spurred the development of many new techniques, such as automated video microscopy.

In the long run, scientists want to fully understand how cell division works and to use this knowledge for the development of causal therapies for cancer. This ambitious goal will require a lot more basic research in the near future. A first step has already been made: the European Union is going to fund a follow-up project over the next five years. "MitoSys", as it is called, will also be coordinated by the IMP and will start later this year.

1) The paper "Systematic Characterization of Human Protein Complexes Identifies Chromosome Segregation Proteins" by the IMP team (Hutchins et al.) will be published online in Science on April 1st, 2010.

2) The paper "Phenotypic profiling of the human genome by time-lapse microscopy reveals cell division genes" by the EMBL team (Neumann et al.) will be published in Nature on April 1st, 2010.

Mag. Evelyn Missbach, MAS
IMP-IMBA Communications
Tel: +43 1 79730 3626
Dr. Yan Sun
Tel: +43 1 79730 3254
Scientific Contact:
Dr. Jan-Michael Peters

Evelyn Missbach | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht ‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Calcium Induces Chronic Lung Infections
24.10.2016 | Universität Basel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>