University of Dundee

Tanaka lab recreating the chromosome inheritance machinery in a test tube

16 Apr 2021

Researchers at the University of Dundee have discovered novel mechanisms for chromosome inheritance by recreating this process in a test tube.

Chromosomes carry genetic information in cells. When cells divide and multiply, a complete set of chromosomes must be duplicated and inherited by each new cell with precision, as any error in this process might cause cell death, cancers and genetic diseases. The correct chromosome inheritance relies on chromosome interactions with wire-like structures, called microtubules. The interaction of chromosomes with microtubules is mediated by the kinetochore, a protein complex assembled on a chromosome. However, it has been unclear how erroneous interactions between the kinetochore and microtubule are resolved to establish correct ones.

The research team led by Dr Harinath Doodhi and Professor Tomo Tanaka in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee have recreated kinetochore interaction with microtubules outside of the cell, i.e. in a test tube.

Dr Doodhi said, “By recreating the dynamic behaviours of the kinetochore on microtubules outside of the cell, we found important mechanisms resolving errors in the kinetochore interaction with microtubules. Our study gives an important insight into mechanisms of human diseases that are characterised by abnormal chromosome inheritance.”

Prof Tanaka said, “We are hugely grateful to our collaborators and research support staff, who helped us to advance and complete this project during the difficult time due to the COVID restrictions.”

The outcome of the research has been published in the Journal of Cell Biology

The research has been funded by The Wellcome Trust.

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