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Study sheds light on cell development

University scientists have shed light on how some cells divide unequally.

Their discovery will enable better understanding of fundamental processes in cell biology, and could aid our understanding of stem cells.

Researchers from Edinburgh and University of Pennsylvania studied asymmetric cell division - wherein mother cells incrementally build daughter cells - in budding yeast.

New mechanisms

They found that a structure that forms on the surface of the mother cell, known as a septin ring, is crucial to separate the identity of daughter from that of her mother.

Their discovery of the molecular mechanisms shaping the septin ring provides insight into the secrets of cellular development.

It could aid understanding of human diseases, such as cancer.

Ageing differently

Asymmetric cell division in budding yeast is useful to study because while the mother continues to age with every cell division, daughters, much like stem cells, are born with their age reset to zero.

Scientists found that the septin ring that creates a boundary between mother and daughter cells is formed by several processes, all controlled by activity of one key molecule.

This molecule, known as Cdc42, first promotes the formation of the septin ring, and then concentrates inside its opening, defining where the future daughter cell will emerge.

The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, was published in Developmental Cell.

This project shows how a close collaboration between theory and experiment can result in a breakthrough study that not only presents new and unexpected experimental results but with use of mathematical modeling answers a number of long-standing questions that have sparked much controversy and discussion in the international scientific community.
Dr Andrew GoryachevSchool of Biological Sciences