Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Doing the Splits
18 April 2012

Doing the Splits

Our bodies are constantly making cells – new ones for growth, and replacement ones for damaged or dead cells. But cells don’t just appear. They are manufactured when an existing cell makes a copy of its DNA-containing chromosomes (shown in pink), and then splits to produce two, identical new cells. Cells can split in any orientation – up/down, left/right, diagonally – but the split needs to generate two equal halves, a process not left to chance. Scientists have been researching a protein LGN (shown in green) that plays a role in balancing the division. The normal cell (left) sees chromosomes line up down the middle between two crescents of LGN. When they used a drug to shift the chromosomes off-centre (right), the pattern of LGN signalling changed. The chromosomes themselves seem to influence the signal. Unpicking cause from effect in molecular systems is a complex business.

Written by Helen Pilcher

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