OMRF researchers identify protein

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 By: Journal Record Staff

The Journal Record

An Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist has discovered the role of a specific protein in a cell division process called mitosis.

Mitosis occurs when a cell divides into two daughter cells, each with the same number of chromosomes as the original cell. Having the wrong number of chromosomes is a common cause of genetic disorders, birth defects and certain cancers.

OMRF researcher Aaron Tipton, a postdoctoral research fellow in the laboratory of Gary Gorbsky, discovered that a protein called GTSE1 is critical to ensuring this process functions properly.

In the cells, chromosomes move along tracks known as microtubules, said Gorbsky. These tracks have to be there for the chromosome to split properly so each new cell has the correct amount in place after it divides.

"The funny thing is, these tracks are not stable," Gorbsky said, "They are constantly falling apart and rebuilding themselves. You'd think this would cause problems, but we've actually learned that this drives the healthy movement of the chromosomes and causes them to moce through the cells properly."

Gorbsky is chairman of OMRF's Cell Cycle and Cancer Biology Research Program and holds the W.H. and Betty Phelps Chair in Developmental Biology.

Grobsky's lab currently focuses on understanding how this protein functions under normal circumstances, but he said this finding could have future relevance to better understanding certain cancers and chromosomal disorders.

"It's not something we've look into yet, but we do know this protein participates in a pathway that is essential for normal cell division," he said. "We know the pathway and segregation of chromosomes is abnormal in cancer cells, so now we've identified a potential way this pathway goes awry, so it's a possiblity to explore."

OMRF researchers Jonathan Wren, John Daum and Joseph Siefert contributed to the findings, which were published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and National Cancer Institute and support from the McCasland Foundation.

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