Amplification of key cellular organizer may initiate cancer, study suggests
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IMAGE: Normal esophageal cells (left) have a single centrosome (labeled green and red). But in patients with Barrett’s esophagus, centrosome amplification begins during metaplasia (second from left), increases during dysplasia (second… view more 

Credit: Lopes et al., 2018

Cells begin to accumulate centrosomes–organelles that play a vital role during cell division–before they transform into cancer cells, according to a new study of patients with Barrett’s esophagus condition, which is associated with esophageal cancer. The research, which will be published May 8 in the Journal of Cell Biology, suggests that similar cases of centrosome amplification may contribute to the initiation and progression of a variety of human cancers.

Centrosomes play crucial roles in a wide range of cellular processes by organizing the cell’s microtubule cytoskeleton. Cells usually contain just a single centrosome that they carefully duplicate once per cell cycle so that, when the cell divides, they can organize microtubules into a bipolar spindle that allows each daughter cell to inherit an equal number of chromosomes and a single centrosome of its own. Cells with too many centrosomes usually fail to divide properly and die.

Cancer cells often contain excessive numbers of centrosomes, however, and usually survive cell division despite

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