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.”