Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Scientists' Cell Division Research Published in Journal Science

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation Scientists' Cell Division Research Published in Journal Science

Article excerpt

Dean Dawson and Regis Meyer work to understand basic science: how cells divide. The two scientists with the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation found which genes are responsible for how cells divide and recently published their findings in the journal Science.

Dawson said their work is like writing the instruction manual on how genes divide. When cells don't divide correctly, it can cause birth defects or tumors. Their work helps establish the foundation for other scientists who are looking to develop cancer treatments, Dawson said.

Dawson and Meyer used a high-powered microscope that can capture video, allowing scientists to find two genes known as master regulators. These genes act like software, telling the cells how to divide and ensuring that each cell divides correctly with exactly the same number of chromosomes.

By watching video clips of the genes at work, Meyer determined how the master regulator genes controlled the cell division process. The process is akin to machinery: Microscopic cables attach to the cells, and microscopic motors pull the cells apart, so each cell has 23 pairs of chromosomes.

"We developed a way of watching chromosomes as they are trying to get ready to be partitioned," Dawson said. "Only by watching the process could you really understand it."

The two genes the scientists are studying aren't the machinery themselves; they are the foreman that turns on and off the switch, Dawson said. They want to know how the foreman controls the process, he said.

"Most important thing we found is the first connections to the cables are almost always wrong," Dawson said. "If the cell doesn't correct them, when they divide, they will get the number of chromosomes catastrophically wrong."

The first gene makes the connections to the cell, and then the second gene corrects the cables so the cells divide with the right number of chromosomes. When cells have too many chromosomes, it leads to abnormalities, such as cancer tumors. …

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