The research groups of Professor Tomo Tanaka and Professor Julian Blow, in collaboration with researchers in University of Nottingham and institutes in Japan, have made a significant new discovery about how cells properly inherit their genetic information.

Dr Toyo Natsume, a member of the research team, explained their discovery:

“When cells divide and multiply, they must copy and inherit a complete set of chromosomes, which carry their genetic information. Failure in this process causes cell death, cancers and genetic disorders. Chromosome inheritance relies on chromosome hooks being tethered to wires in the cell. For accurate chromosome inheritance, chromosome regions under the hooks must be copied early and glued together until the wires finally pull the chromosomes apart. We discovered how chromosome hooks coordinate all these functions.”

Professor Tanaka explained why the discovery was important:

“Like three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, chromosome hooks play three wise roles. Thanks to the mechanism we discovered, they see no error in wire tethering, hear no delay in chromosome copying and speak no weakness in their gluing. Our finding sheds new light on how cells ensure chromosome inheritance to avoid cell death and diseases.”

The research has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, MRC, CRUK and BBSRC. The team’s finding has been published in Molecular Cell 50, 661-674, 2013.

Link to paper