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For Immediate Release: August 2, 2007
Contact: Gina Hebert, MBL, 508-289-7725; ghebert@mbl.edu

Seeing the Human Cell Divide

Cell division is a critical process in human development from the moment of conception on, and it is also at the heart of many diseases, including cancer. One crucial task of the dividing cell is to accurately separate and send its chromosomes into the two new daughter cells. And the kinetochores — somewhat mysterious bundles of proteins on the chromosomes that seem to generate a motor force – are important players in this. An emerging, international consortium of scientists at the MBL is studying the intricacies of the kinetochores, using advanced imaging techniques with live human cells. The Kinetochore Consortium plans to develop a mechanical and biochemical model of the human kinetochore through all phases of the cell cycle.

“The MBL is a great place to bring people together to drive a coordinated project,” says Jason Swedlow of the University of Dundee, U.K., who leads the Kinetochore Consortium, “and the MBL’s new Rowe Laboratory is a great facility.” Other investigators in the Kinetochore Consortium include Gaudenz Danuser of Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California; Daniel Gerlich of ETH Zurich, Switzerland; Andrew McAinsh of Marie Curie Research Institute, Oxted, U.K.; and Patrick Meraldi of ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Video Formats:

The kinetochores are force-generating machines that play an important role in the division of one cell into two. In this time-lapse video, the kinetochores (white dots) of a human cell, which are attached to cell’s chromosomes (not visible), are seen moving to the opposite poles of the dividing cell, where two new daughter cells form. The kinetochores are visible because they have been tagged with a fluorescent protein derived from jellyfish. Video recorded by Ana Amaro of ETH Zurich, a member of the MBL Kinetochore Consortium.


The MBL is a leading international, independent, nonprofit institution dedicated to discovery and to improving the human condition through creative research and education in the biological, biomedical and environmental sciences. Founded in 1888 as the Marine Biological Laboratory, the MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the Western Hemisphere. For more information, visit www.MBL.edu