When mother and daughter cells are created each time a cell divides, they are not exactly alike. They have the same set of genes, but differ in the way they regulate them. New research now reveals that these regulatory differences between mother and daughter cells are directly linked to how they prepare for their next split. The work, a collaboration between scientists at Rockefeller University and the State University of New York, Stony Brook, may ultimately lead to a better understanding of how cell division goes awry in different types of cancer. The findings are reported in this week's PLoS Biology.
"You can basically think of mother and daughter cells as different cells just like you would a neuron and liver cell but on a much subtler level," says first author Stefano Di Talia, who received his Ph.D. from Rockefeller in 2009. "We found that their differences in gene expression are also what makes the mother and daughter cells start their cell cycles differently."
When a mature cell divides, it produces a mother and a daughter cell, the daughter being smaller than the mother, explains Di Talia, who is now a postdoc at Princeton University. Since the 1970s, it was thought that both mother and daughter cells use the same gears and levers to prepare for cell division. The only difference was that the daughter cell would take longer to start dividing on account of its size.
This tidy explanation now gives way to a more nuanced version, the seeds of which can be traced to research from the University of Wisconsin in 2003. It was then proposed that the size of the daughter cell has no bearing on whether it is ready to divide. What matters is that the daughter cell, and not the mother cell, receives a protein called Ace2 at the time the two cells are born. "This model was against the accepted dogma and against our own previous findings. Our work was an attempt to resolve the debate," says Di Talia.
Di Talia and Frede
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