Image of the Day: Wrench in the Works
Image of the Day: Wrench in the Works

Image of the Day: Wrench in the Works

In cell division, a protein called spastin appears to help tear down a bridge between daughter cells.

Mar 26, 2019
Carolyn Wilke

ABOVE: Dividing HeLa cells are connected by an intercellular bridge that persists when the protein spastin is inhibited.
LAWRENCE RUBEN LABORATORY OF CHEMISTRY AND CELL BIOLOGY AT THE ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY

Some cellular processes, including cell division, move so quickly that researchers can hardly catch the molecular actors and what they’re doing. Now, researchers from the Rockefeller University have figured out how to gum up the works in order to study spastin, a protein at play in cell division.

The scientists developed a probe called spastazoline that selectively inhibits spastin during fast processes so they could watch how dividing human cells were affected, the researchers reported February 18 in Nature Chemical BiologyTo get at spastin’s roles in cell division, they compared cells in which spastazoline held back spastin with ones that were modified to be immune to spastazoline. In cells where spastin was obstructed, the daughter cells were more likely to remain connected by an intercellular bridge that spastin may play a role in tearing down. 

T. Cupido et al., “Designing a chemical inhibitor for the AAA protein spastin using active site mutations,” Nature Chemical Biology, doi:10.1038/s41589-019-0225-6, 2019.