The mechanism of Cell Cycle regulation -- with reference to cancer development

Dr Nobuaki Furuno (Visiting Fellow, Wellcome/CRC Institute)

Friday, 12 March, 1999; 7:00-9:00pm

Seminar room, Darwin College

The smallest unit of organisms is called 'cell'. In microorganism, such as bacteria, organisms are solitary cells and, in higher organisms, such as ourselves, are made up of many different types of cells.
One of the most characteristic things of organism is to reproduce progeny. Since all organisms are made of cell(s), the question of how organisms reproduce their progeny is ultimately reduced to the question of how cells proliferate. A cell propagates by division and this process is called cell division, which consists of four phases (G1, S, G2 and M). S phase is a period when a cell duplicates its genes, and M phase is a process where a cell actually splits into two. G1 and G2 are phases between M and S and between S and M, respectively. Cells propagate by repeating these four phases and this 4-phase cycle is called 'Cell Cycle'.
Despite the fact that the Cell Cycle is a fundamental process of organism, its mechanism was yet to be resolved until recently, when a biochemical approach utilizing animal eggs and a genetical approach utilizing yeast began to reveal the mechanism of Cell Cycle independently. In late 80's, these two approaches were joined and knowledge of Cell Cycle was drastically accumulated. More recently, it was revealed that most of the genes that regulate the Cell Cycle are also involved in arising of cancer, and advances in our understanding of Cell Cycle have made significant contribution to elucidating how cancers develop. Now, it is thought that cancer is to appear when Cell Cycle regulation is altered.
In my talk, I will discuss the history of Cell Cycle studies in relation to cancer research, and meiosis that produces gametes.