Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Of Yeast and Men: An evolutionary tale

Scientists at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna discover and elucidate the function of conserved cell division proteins in yeast

The adult human body consists of trillions of cells. Cell proliferation is accomplished by means of cell division in which an existing cell serves as the exact blueprint for its progeny. This process follows the same basic principles in all higher organisms. First, the genetic information is precisely copied and subsequently equally distributed between the mother and daughter.

Dividing human cancer cell in Metaphase. The DNA (gray) is attached to the spindle apparatus (pseudocolored). Copyright: IMP/Ladurner

The major task for the dividing cell is to drag two complete sets of chromosomes to the opposite sides of the nucleus, respectively. A logistic challenge accomplished by the interplay of two factors: the spindle apparatus that acts as the molecular motor driving chromosome movements, and the kinetochore that constitutes the physical platform between the DNA and the mitotic spindle.

The attachment site formed by the kinetochore is an intricate protein network. While its components providing the direct contact point for the spindle are very well preserved from yeast to human, evolution of the DNA-binding proteins remained puzzling given that the underlying DNA template is highly variable.

Now, a novel study published in the June edition of Nature Cell Biology sheds light onto the cryptic molecular relationship between the yeast and human kinetochore. Principal investigator Stefan Westermann and his team tracked the missing evolutionary link and opened up new insights into the architecture and function of the key division organelle.

The correct shape pieces the puzzle together

“The clue was to take a close look at the protein sequence as well as specific sequence motifs that get an amino acid chain into its particular shape.” says Stefan Westermann. “In this way, our bioinformatician Alexander Schleiffer was able to predict a number of novel DNA-binding kinetochore proteins and assigned them to the respective human homolog.” Follow-up experiments strongly supported analogous function of the proteins. “Yeast is still an informative model organism and very easy to handle. Our current findings can now direct similar studies in more complex systems. There erroneous chromosome segregation is deleterious for the cell and a common cause of cancer” explains the scientist.

Pull chromosomes together

One of the novel proteins, termed Cnn1, turns out to be of special interest. It connects to the kinetochore molecule Ndc80 that is the major contact point for the spindle apparatus. “This particular interaction is not essential for the initial attachment of the spindle. It rather plays a supporting role that timely overlaps with maximal pulling forces acting on the chromosomes” says Stefan Westermann.

The paper “CENP-T proteins are conserved centromere receptors of the Ndc80 complex” by Schleiffer et al. will be published online on Nature Cell Biology's website on 06 May, 2012 (DOI 10.1038/ncb2493).

About the IMP
The IMP is a basic research institute in Vienna, Austria. Its main sponsor is Boehringer Ingelheim International, headquartered in Germany. With over 220 employees from more than 30 different nations, the IMP is a Center of Excellence in the life sciences and the core unit of the Campus Vienna Biocenter. Research at the IMP aims at elucidating the molecular basis of normal development and disease.

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl
IMP Communications
Tel. +43 1 79730-3625
mobile: +43 (0)664 8247910

Scientific Contact:
Dr. Stefan Westermann

Dr. Heidemarie Hurtl | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

nachricht 'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>