UT scientists have mapped the process of cell division cycle
University of Tartu researchers have made new discoveries in the cell division cycle, one of life's fundamental processes, and the knowledge may help develop a more efficient treatment for cancer.
The new study, part of researcher Mardo Kõivomägi's doctoral thesis which was published in the journal Molecular Cell, is the first to conclude that the protein CDK - which regulates the cell division process sort of like an on/off switch - is a trigger that changes at different times of the cellular division process, and is not constant, as was previously thought.
"During our research, we discovered that the CDK ability to give signals to various molecules changes constantly during the cell cycle and isn't stable, as was long the understanding," said biomedical technology researcher Mart Loog. "Hence we created a model that describes the changes of those signals during the cell division cycle. We also put together the first system to classify those signals, which is based on the yeast cell model."
In cancer cells, Loog said, the function of CDK protein is interrupted by a genetic mutation, and cellular division is out of control. It can be thought of as a switch that doesn't want to turn off.
But studying how the CDK protein acts in cancer cases may be the key for learning how to interrupt a cell division process gone bad while avoiding damage to healthy cells.
"To turn the switch off, we must understand the inner mechanism. We discovered that CDK’s ability to send signals to various molecules is changing throughout the cell cycle and is not constant as was thought before. We created a model that describes the change of those signals during the whole division cycle. In addition we created the first system for classifying these signals, using yeast cell models,“ explained Loog.
Loog says knowing all of these phases and signals may enable one to find very accurate targets that can disrupt cancer cell division while not harming other, healthy cells.
Additional information: Mart Loog, senior research fellow at Biomedical Technology Development Center of University of Tartu. Phone +372 737 4848, mobile +372 517 5698, email mart.loog [ät] ut.ee
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