Microtubules need a helping hand to find chromosomes in dividing egg cells, scientists have discovered. Although it was generally accepted that microtubules act alone as the cellular ropes to pull chromosomes into place, a new study by researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) shows that this is not the case. They found that in large cells such as animal eggs, something else is needed to move the chromosomes into the correct location - fibres of the cytoskeletal molecule actin (Nature, July 13, 2005).
“No one has ever shown that actin moves chromosomes,” says Dr. Jan Ellenberg, the EMBL researcher whose group carried out the research. “We were able to do so because our group is one of the few that studies cell division in starfish - an ideal model for observing division in living animal eggs.”
The starfish is an excellent model for studying oocytes, the cells that give rise to egg cells. In this marine animal, these cells are transparent and mature quickly outside the body, and can be kept alive in a drop of seawater. Thats why EMBL scientists performed some of their experiments with collaborators at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, USA – working with animals fresh from the ocean.
Trista Dawson | alfa
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