Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Spinning into Control
07 March 2012

Spinning into Control

Cell division is a violent process. The cell’s cytoskeleton must be ripped apart, and all of the pieces tugged around and reorganised into two identical cells. Dramatic events like this are difficult to observe directly in the lab, so biologists must be inventive. Using knowledge about the machinery of cell division in yeast, mathematical modelling allows ‘virtual’ experiments to be done. Here we see one such simulation predicting how the cell’s muscles, the motor proteins (shown in in red), might pull the cytoskeleton filaments (shown in blue and green) into a spiralling vortex, a pattern never observed before in the cell. Such insight is just one example of how powerful mathematical models can be. It is no wonder that mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists are an increasingly frequent sight in the modern biology lab.

Written by John Ankers

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