Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
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IMAGE: During mitosis, microtubule-organizing centers assemble the spindle fibers that separate the copying chromosomes of DNA. Researchers are now trying to decipher their molecular architecture. Integrative structure model of the yeast… view more 

Credit: Shruthi Viswanath

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 18, 2018 — Cell division is an intricately choreographed ballet of proteins and molecules that divide the cell. During mitosis, microtubule-organizing centers (MTOCs) assemble the spindle fibers that separate the copying chromosomes of DNA. While scientists are familiar with MTOCs’ existence and the role they play in cell division, their actual physical structure remains poorly understood.

Shruthi Viswanath, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco, with a team of researchers, is trying to decipher the molecular architecture of the MTOC. They will present their work during the 62nd Biophysical Society Annual Meeting, held Feb. 17-21, in San Francisco, California.

MTOCs are specially designed structures within the cell that create, anchor and stabilize the network of microtubules that act like scaffolding within the cell. More than 1,000 proteins are associated with the MTOC in animal cells, but few of these proteins have been assigned a particular function.

Rather than untangle the complexity of the MTOC, Viswanath focused her

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