VIDEO: An immature cluster of cells, or organoid (left) lacks the tissue architecture of a more mature organoid (right). Without this architecture, chromosomes (green) remain in a tangle for longer before… view more
Credit: K. Knouse et al./Cell 2018
For some cells, context is everything. Cells plucked out of their native environs have trouble divvying up their chromosomes correctly, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Angelika Amon and colleagues have found.
The unexpected discovery, described August 23, 2018, in the journal Cell, could have big implications for scientists trying to grow human tissues in the lab. The results may also help explain why chromosome mistakes run rampant in cancerous cells – an unanswered question in cancer biology. Tumors can change the structure of a cell’s external environment, Amon says. And those changes could be enough to muck with chromosome division, her team’s work suggests.
Scientists often grow cells in flat layers on plastic dishes. Liver cells grown this way are notoriously bad at splitting up their chromosomes during cell division. Instead of dividing chromosomes equally between two daughter cells, liver cells sometimes leave a chromosome lagging behind.
This error can scramble cells’ genetic material – mistakes that may make growing livers in
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