Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Solving the puzzle of stem cell division

06.10.2008
The central question of developmental biology is how a single fertilized egg can divide repeatedly to produce multiple different cell types. An article in this week's issue of the scientific journal Cell from Jürgen Knoblich's group at the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) in Vienna, Austria sheds fresh light on this key issue.

It had previously been established that asymmetric cell division is extremely important in determining cell fates. Asymmetric cell division occurs when a molecule is inherited by only one of the two cells that arise following cell division (mitosis).

It was established well over a decade ago that in the sensory organ precursor cells (SOP cells) of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster the "Numb" protein is segregated into only one of the two daughter cells. How this takes place, however, has remained a matter of conjecture despite the intense efforts of at least 10 groups worldwide.

Knoblich was one of the scientists involved in the early characterization of the molecules involved in Numb's asymmetric localization and he has continued to study the mechanism from his early post-doc days to the present. Some time ago he and others showed that the protein "Lethal giant larvae" (Lgl) and an atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) were involved but scientists were unable to say how the phosphorylation of Lgl by aPKC affected Numb's localization.

The facilities at the IMBA and the adjoining Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP) have enabled a wide range of methods to be brought to bear on the problem. Key to Knoblich's work has been a recently developed method for imaging live flies. Knoblich has been studying Numb localization by means of a uniquely multidisciplinary approach, combining live imaging methods with genetics and biochemistry. The kinase AuroraA (Aur-A) was known to be activated at the start of cell division and to be required for Numb activity. Knoblich has now shown that AurA phosphorylates a protein known as Par-6, causing actication of aPKC and thus the phosphoylation of Lgl and its dissociation from the Par complex. When Lgl is no longer bound to the Par complex, a further protein, known as "Bazooka", may bind in its place. AurA activation thus effects a remodelling of the Par complex. As Knoblich further showed, the Par complex can only phosphorylate the Numb protein when Bazooka is present in the complex. Phosphorylated Numb is released from the cortex and because it diffuses only slowly through the cell it is restricted to a crescent on the opposite side.

Knoblich's results have identified a cascade of interactions among the various proteins required for restricting Numb's localization to a cortical crescent on the opposite side of the cell. A similar process was shown to operate in cultured human cells, so it is likely that the molecular mechanism responsible for regulating asymmetric cell division in Drosophila neuroblasts may control self-renewal and prevent tumour formation in other types of stem cell. The present findings are thus likely to have important ramifications in tumour biology. Indeed, mutations in the numb gene have been shown to cause uncontrolled growth of neuroblasts, leading to the formation of brain tumours and a similar phenotype results from expression of a constitutively active form of a PKC. Knoblich now reports that in this latter case the tumourigenic activity is completely removed by overexpressing Numb. The human Numb analogue is known to act as a suppressor of breast cancer, whereas the Lgl homologue has been implicated in metastasis of colon carcinomas (tumours are more aggressive in the absence of Lgl). The potential implications of Knoblich's latest results for human therapy are obvious, although Knoblich stresses that they lie well in the future.

Publication: Frederik Wirtz-Peitz, Takashi Nishimura, and Juergen A. Knoblich: Linking Cell Cycle to Asymmetric Division: Aurora A Phosphorylates the Par Complex to Regulate Numb Localization. Cell, October 3, 2008

F.W.P. was supported by a Ph.D. fellowship of the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds; T.N. is supported by a long-term fellowship of the HFSP; work in J.A.K.'s lab is supported by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, FWF, WWTF, EU EUROSYSTEMS, and ONCASYM.

Contact:
Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl, IMBA Communications
Tel. +43 1 79730-3625
Mobile: +43 (0)664 8247910
heidemarie.hurtl@imba.oeaw.ac.at
Scientific Contact:
Dr. Jürgen Knoblich
juergen.knoblich@imba.oeaw.ac.at

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw
Further information:
http://www.imba.oeaw.ac.at/research/juergen-knoblich/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>