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'Parent' cells reset the cell division clock
Date:5/8/2014

Melbourne researchers have overturned a 40-year-old theory on when and how cells divide, showing that 'parent' cells program a cell division time for their offspring that is different from their own.

Scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have shown that both phases of the cell cycle contribute to the overall change in division time rather than one staying fixed in duration as previously thought. They have developed these findings into a new model that helps scientists predict how a population of cells has divided.

Their research could impact our understanding of cell replication, such as occurs during the immune response to infection or in cancer development and progression. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Institute scientists Professor Phil Hodgkin, Dr Mark Dowling, Dr John Markham, Dr Andrey Kan and colleagues made the discovery while studying how immune cells called B and T cells divided over time. Using time-lapse microscopy, the research group followed individual cells, observing each phase of the cell cycle as the cell divided into two new 'daughter' cells and recording how long each phase took.

The cell cycle can be broken into two phases. In the first phase, cells grow in size and make the proteins required to copy their DNA. In the second stage, the DNA is copied and final preparations are made to split the cell in half in a final stage known as mitosis. Since 1973, scientists have predicted cell division using a model that captures the overall length of the cell cycle, but does not explain how long each phase may last.

Dr Markham, who completed the research while at National Information and Communication Technologies Australia (NICTA), said the study found the time taken for each stage of the cell division cycle varied from cell to cell. "The old model of cell cycle times didn't fit our observations, so we developed a new model
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Contact: Alan Gill
gill.a@wehi.edu.au
61-393-452-719
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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