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Two central mysteries in genome inheritance solved at UCSD

The dance of the chromosomes during cell division, first described in the late 1800s and familiar to all high-school students from movies shown in biology classes, has long fascinated biologists. However, the molecular nature of a key component of cell division, the "chromosome-spindle" connection, which is critical for the inheritance of genetic information as cells divide, has remained elusive.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have identified a protein group that forms the chromosome-spindle connection involved in pulling apart the two replicas of the duplicated genome during cell division. They have also identified a separate protein complex that helps the cell discriminate between correct and incorrect spindle connections, and shuts down the pulling process when the connections are incorrect to ensure that each new cell has a complete set of chromosomes.

In a pair of papers in the journal Cell ?one published in the December 1 issue; the second on December 15 ?the scientists report these solutions to two long-standing mysteries about the mechanism of genome inheritance during cell division.

"These two discoveries open the door to further studies of the chromosome-spindle interface, studies that could result in improvement of chemotherapies for cancer," said Arshad Desai, Ph.D., assistant professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UCSD and investigator with the Ludwig Institute, who is principle investigator of both studies.

Cell division is central to the development, maintenance and propagation of all living organisms. During every cell cycle, the genome ?which carries the blueprint of life ?must be duplicated and distributed. Errors in genome distribution result in genetic birth defects and contribute to the genesis of cancer.

Accurate distribution of the genome, which is split into chromosomes of varying number de
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Source:University of California - San Diego


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