New insights into the mechanisms of cell division

October 07, 2013

Daniel Gerlich and Amalie Dick from the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) developed a laser microsurgery approach in live cells to study the signalling of a checkpoint that ensures correct chromosome attachment to the mitotic spindle.

chromosomes (red) mitotic spindle (green)

The mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) delays anaphase onset until all chromosomes have attached to spindle microtubules originating from opposite poles. Daniel Gerlich and Amalie Dick investigated SAC signalling kinetics in response to acute detachment of individual chromosomes using laser microsurgery. The study defines when cells irreversibly commit to enter anaphase and shows that the SAC signal strength correlates with the number of unattached chromosomes.
(Dick & Gerlich. Nat Cell Biol (2013))

Detailed knowledge about SAC signalling kinetics is important for understanding the emergence of aneuploidy and the response of cancer cells to chemotherapeutics targeting the mitotic spindle.