Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

The Cell Cycle and Cancer

06/07/2006 1:00 PM 46-3002
Angelika Amon, Associate Professor of Biology, MIT;; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Description: We all start out as a single fertilized cell, and wind up, as fully formed humans, with 10 to the 13th cells. -The name of the game,” says Angelika Amon, is to replicate the genetic information in those cells accurately. -Only if that happens all the time and with high fidelity will you end up with a healthy individual.” Amon shows a beautiful video of dance-like cell division in the African blood lily, which demonstrates the migration of chromosomes to opposite ends of the cell -- prelude to a single cell becoming two daughter cells. It's -like a curtain opening,” Amon says in wonder. This process of cell division, she continues, is -highly conserved” among organisms. For instance, if a yeast cell contains a defect that prevents it from dividing correctly, plugging in the human equivalent of a protein to correct the defect will enable the yeast to begin dividing again. Amon describes how cells contain special proteins called growth factors that work together to inhibit or initiate cell division. -The cell puts in place layers and layers of controls, like an onion,” says Amon. If someone inherits a mutation that affects one of these growth factors, then cells may proliferate uncontrollably. Another route to cancer is if a cell's internal mechanisms for detecting DNA damage malfunctions, perhaps due to exposure to X-rays or UV rays. When these checkpoints break down, instead of putting the brakes on cell division, the cell will proceed unchecked through division with broken chromosomes, or extra chromosomes. Pieces of DNA lie around, information gets lost or amplified and -a mess ensues.” Researchers have identified several key chromosomes in which defects lead to malfunctioning growth factors or checkpoints. And they've begun to design new drugs that target the specific proteins involved in these errant cell growth pathways.

About the Speaker(s): Angelika Amon has been a faculty member of the Center for Cancer Research since 1999. Previously, she was a Whitehead Institute fellow.

She was born in Austria in 1967, and earned her bachelor's and doctoral degrees at the University of Vienna. She first came to the U.S. in 1994 for postdoctoral studies.

Amon has analyzed the yeast cell cycle as the first step in an effort to unravel the controls that govern cell-cycle progression. In 2003, she received the National Science Foundation's $500,000 Alan T. Waterman Award, NSF's highest honor for young scientists and engineers.

Host(s): School of Science, School of Science

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated over 2 years ago

Created
December 13, 2011 13:01
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
1838 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

Interdisciplinary Research at MIT: Making Uncommon Connections

Interdisciplinary Research at MIT: ...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:49:00 | 2247 views

The Computational Nature of Language Learning

The Computational Nature of Languag...

Added over 2 years ago | 00:41:13 | 1641 views

Energy: The Past Must Not Be Prologue

Energy: The Past Must Not Be Prologue

Added over 2 years ago | 00:57:43 | 2481 views

The Electoral College in U.S. Presidential Elections: Logical Foundations, Mathematics and Politics

The Electoral College in U.S. Presi...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:13:00 | 2249 views

From Lab to Market: Where Technology is Headed

From Lab to Market: Where Technolog...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:15:00 | 2089 views

Process Improvement in the Rarefied Environment of Academic Medicine

Process Improvement in the Rarefied...

Added over 2 years ago | 01:18:00 | 1960 views