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DNA replication protein also has a role in mitosis, cancer
Date:5/13/2012

as involved in mitosis. That protein, called Hec1 for "highly expressed in cancer," helps to ensure that the duplicated chromosomes are equally divided into daughter cells during mitosis, or cell division. Cook hypothesized that either Hec1 had a job in DNA replication that nobody knew about, or that Cdt1 was the one with the side business.

Cook partnered with Hec1 expert Edward (Ted) D. Salmon, PhD, professor of biology and co-senior author in this study, to explore these two possibilities. After letting Cdt1 do its replication job, the researchers interfered with the protein's function to see if it adversely affected mitosis. Using a high-powered microscope that records images of live cells, they showed that cells where Cdt1 function had been blocked did not undergo mitosis properly.

Once the researchers knew that Cdt1 was involved in mitosis, they wanted to pinpoint its role in that critical process. They further combined their genetic, microscopy and computational methods to demonstrate that without Cdt1, Hec1 fails to adopt the conformation inside the cells necessary to connect the chromosomes with the structure that pulls them apart into their separate daughter cells.

Cook says cells that make aberrant amounts of Cdt1, like that seen in cancer, can therefore experience problems in both replication and mitosis. One current clinical trial is actually trying to ramp up the amount of Cdt1 in cancer cells, in the hopes of pushing them from an already precarious position into a fatal one.


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Contact: Les Lang
llang@med.unc.edu
919-966-9366
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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