By impaling individual chromosomes with glass needles one thousandth the diameter of a human hair, a Duke University graduate student has tested their "stickiness" to one another during cell division. Her uncanny surgical skills have added a piece to the large and intricate puzzle of how one cell divides into two -- a process fundamental to all organisms.
In the Dec. 14, 2004, issue of Current Biology, Leocadia Paliulis and Bruce Nicklas report their progress in understanding how the pairs of chromosomes in each cell manage to balance their adhesion to one another and their release during cell division. Their work was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Chromosomes are the tiny fiber structures in the cell that house its genes. They replicate and separate in the process of cell division.
The exquisite management of adhesion properties between newly divided chromosomes, called chromatids, is crucial if the cells are to divide properly. In this process chromatids are drawn apart to separate poles of the dividing cell so that each new "daughter" cell contains a single copy of each. The same basic process operates in normal cell division, called mitosis, as well as the proliferation of sperm and egg cells called meiosis.
Dennis Meredith | EurekAlert!
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