Nek9 identified as a key component in cell division
A study has improved understanding of the first stages of cell division.
The research was undertaken by the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Center for Genomic Regulation (acronym in Catalan CRG).
It describes how Nek9 is required for a cell to be able to divide the chromosomes into two identical groups in order to ensure efficient and accurate cell division.
Errors in the correct distribution of chromosomes cause many spontaneous miscarriages, some genetic defects such as trisomies, and are also related to the development of tumours.
“Through this study we demonstrate that a fourth family of proteins, namely NIMA and specifically Nek9, exert functions in cell division as important as those undertaken by the widely studied CDK (cdk1), Polo (Plk1) and Aurora (Aurora A and B) kinases”, explained the scientist Joan Roig, specialist in the NIMA protein family and co-discoverer of Nek9.
The scientists study cell division and more specifically the first stages of mitosis or the process of the cell nucleus dividing in half.
The distribution of the chromosomes requires the development of machinery that separates the two copies of the genetic material in such a way that the two resulting cells from the division inherit the same content.
Nek9 participates in the preparation of the centrosomes, organelles involved in the organisation of mitotic spindle development, a kind of “rugby ball” made up of microtubules or “molecular wiring”, which, together with several “motors” pull and separate the chromosomes into two identical groups.
The study reports that Nek9 modifies and controls NEDD1, the function of which was discovered in 2006 by Jens Luders, a researcher at IRB Barcelona, and a molecule involved in the formation of the new microtubules required to prepare the mitotic spindle.
Interference with cell division is one of the main strategies used against cancer and the pharmaceutical industry is currently testing new drugs that inhibit Plk1, Aurora and Eg5. Nek9 falls between Plk1 and Eg5.