If head coaches Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy left during halftime of Oklahoma's Bedlam football game, mass confusion would likely commence.
This scenario is comparable to an event that's talked about significantly less among Oklahoma residents: cell division.
Two researchers at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation have discovered that two genes, IPL1 or MPS1, serve as coaches during cell division, ensuring that a cell has the proper number of chromosomes before the cell divides to form more cells.
“It's a lot like a coach,” said scientist Dean Dawson, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation member.
“The coach doesn't actually play the game. He tells people what to do. And MPS1 is not the one actually moving the chromosomes. It's turning on and off the different parts of the machine that actually moves the chromosomes.”
The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation is a nonprofit biomedical research institute in Oklahoma City.
Foundation scientists work to develop effective treatments for human disease, focusing on heart disease, cancer, lupus and Alzheimer's disease, among other things, according to the foundation.
Dawson and Regis Meyer, a senior postdoctoral fellow, explained their findings in a paper published this past week in Science, a global peer-reviewed journal.
Cells are the basic building blocks of all living things, according to National Library of Medicine.
During cell division, a cell duplicates all of its contents, including its chromosomes, and splits to form two identical daughter cells, according to the medicine library.
Because this process is so critical to a human's development, the steps are carefully controlled by a number of genes, according to the library.
The two genes at the focus of Meyer and Dawson's work — IPL1 or MPS1 — play an important role in that regulation during cell division.
During cell division, each chromosome is attached to a kind of cellular winch, and just before the cells divide, the winches drag the chromosomes into the new daughter cells, according to the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
What Dawson and Meyer found was that the cells kept making mistakes as they attached the chromosomes to the winches, according to the foundation.
Genes fix mistakes
Upon further study, they found that two genes, IPL1 and MPS1, acted as regulators to fix the mistakes that were being made.
“What Regis found is that one of them, IPL1, disconnects bad attachments, so it undoes the bad attachment, and the second one, MPS1, makes new attachments and helps the chromosomes back to the middle of the cell where they can start the whole process over again,” Dawson said.
The researchers' discovery of what role these two genes play in cell division could help other scientists — for example, cancer researchers.
When cell division is not regulated correctly, health problems such as cancer can result, according to the library.
Dawson and Meyer hope their work will give cancer researchers a better idea of what role the genes play in cell division, which could lead to a better understanding of why cancer cells develop.
“The next step for us is to try to identify the exact target gene that MPS1 is controlling when it makes these new attachments,” Dawson said.
“The big step we made forward was to find out the process that MPS1 is controlling, and now we want to get really molecular, and find out what exact gene is MPS1 regulating so that the new attachments get made. That's what we're hot on the trail of right now.”