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New insights link key protein in cell division with cancer

Posted on Feb 04 2014 | IANS

London, Feb 4 : As the world observes Cancer Day Tuesday, a ground-breaking research gives new insights into how the cells in our bodies divide which could improve our knowledge of a condition linked to cancer.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Britain have suggested the key role played by a protein in ensuring that cells separate correctly.

Errors in the cell division process - which allows us to grow and stay healthy - can lead to a genetic disorder called aneuploidy, which is also associated with birth defects and infertility.

During cell division, chromosomes containing our DNA duplicate and then separate to form two identical copies of the original cell.

Aneuploidy arises when chromosome pairs fail to separate properly.

Scientists say that a protein - called shugoshin - serves two important functions.

It recruits other parts of the cell which are needed for chromosome separation and enables an in-built error correction system to monitor cells as they divide.

Researchers studied the effect that disabling shugoshin had on cell division in yeast.

The team found that in the absence of a working shugoshin protein, cells were more likely to contain abnormal numbers of chromosomes.

"Faults in these proteins are linked to some types of cancer, and our new discoveries about how they function in yeast could help us understand how they can sometimes contribute to disease in humans," said Adele Marston of the University of Edinburgh's school of biological sciences.

Cell division in yeast is very similar to that of humans, making it an excellent model in which to study the role that shugoshin plays in preventing aneuploidy in people, said the study published in the journal eLife.

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