Latest Articles Include:
- Editorial Board
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):i (2011)
- pRB, a tumor suppressor with a stabilizing presence
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):433-441 (2011)
The product of the retinoblastoma tumor-susceptibility gene (RB1) is a key regulator of cell proliferation and this function is thought to be central to its tumor suppressive activity. Several studies have demonstrated that inactivation of pRB not only allows inappropriate proliferation but also undermines mitotic fidelity, leading to genome instability and ploidy changes. Such properties promote tumor evolution and correlate with increased resistance to therapeutics and tumor relapse. These observations suggest that inactivation of pRB could contribute to both tumor initiation and progression. Further characterization of the role of pRB in chromosome segregation will provide insight into processes that are misregulated in human tumors and could reveal new therapeutic targets to kill or stall these chromosomally unstable lesions. We review the evidence that pRB promotes genome stability and discuss the mechanisms that probably contribute to this effect.
- Reconstructing regulatory network transitions
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):442-451 (2011)
Cellular responses often involve a transition of cells from one state to another. A transition from a stem cell to a differentiated cell state, for example, might occur in response to gene expression changes induced by a transcription factor, or to signaling cascades triggered by a hormone or pathogen. Regulatory networks are thought to control such cellular transitions. Thus, many researchers are interested in reconstructing regulatory networks, not only with the aim of gaining a deeper understanding of cellular transitions, but also of using networks to predict and potentially manipulate cellular transitions and outcomes. In this review, we highlight approaches to the reconstruction of regulatory networks underlying cellular transitions, with special attention to transcriptional regulatory networks. We describe recent regulatory network reconstructions in a variety of organisms, and discuss the success they share in identifying new regulatory components, shared relat! ionships and phenotypic outcomes.
- Coupling mitosis to DNA replication: The emerging role of the histone H4-lysine 20 methyltransferase PR-Set7
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):452-460 (2011)
To ensure accurate inheritance of genetic information through cell proliferation, chromosomes must be precisely copied only during S phase, and then correctly condensed and segregated during mitosis. Several new findings suggest that this tight coupling between DNA replication and mitosis is in part controlled by cell cycle regulated chromatin modifications, in particular due to the changing activity of lysine methyltransferase PR-Set7/SET8 that is responsible for the monomethylation of histone H4 at lysine 20. Cell cycle oscillation of PR-Set7 is orchestrated by ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, and interference with this regulatory process leads to unscheduled licensing of replication origins and altered timing of mitotic chromosome compaction. This review provides an overview of how PR-Set7 regulates these two cell cycle events and highlights questions that remain to be addressed.
- Atomic force microscopy: a nanoscopic window on the cell surface
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):461-469 (2011)
Atomic force microscopy (AFM) techniques provide a versatile platform for imaging and manipulating living cells to single-molecule resolution, thereby enabling us to address pertinent questions in key areas of cell biology, including cell adhesion and signalling, embryonic and tissue development, cell division and shape, and microbial pathogenesis. In this review, we describe the principles of AFM, and survey recent breakthroughs made in AFM-based cell nanoscopy, showing how the technology has increased our molecular understanding of the organization, mechanics, interactions and processes of the cell surface. We also discuss the advantages and limitations of AFM techniques, and the challenges remaining to be addressed in future research.
- Cdk5rap2 exposes the centrosomal root of microcephaly syndromes
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):470-480 (2011)
Autosomal recessive primary microcephaly (MCPH) is characterized by small brain size as a result of deficient neuron production in the developing cerebral cortex. Although MCPH is a rare disease, the questions surrounding its etiology strike at the core of stem cell biology. The seven genes implicated in MCPH all encode centrosomal proteins and disruption of the MCPH gene Cdk5rap2 in mice revealed its role in neural progenitor proliferation and in maintaining normal centriole replication control. We discuss here the impact that centrosome regulation has upon neural progenitors in the developing brain. We integrate the impact of centriole replication defects with the functions of Cdk5rap2 and other MCPH proteins, propose mechanisms for progenitor loss in MCPH, and discuss links to two other microcephaly syndromes.
- Unraveling the enigma: progress towards understanding the coronin family of actin regulators
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):481-488 (2011)
Coronins are a conserved family of actin cytoskeleton regulators that promote cell motility and modulate other actin-dependent processes. Although these proteins have been known for 20 years, substantial progress has been made in the past 5 years towards their understanding. In this review, we examine this progress, place it into the context of what was already known, and pose several questions that remain to be addressed. In particular, we cover the emerging consensus about the role of Type I coronins in coordinating the function of Arp2/3 complex and ADF/cofilin proteins. This coordination plays an important role in leading-edge actin dynamics and overall cell motility. Finally, we discuss the roles played by the more exotic coronins of the Type II and III classes in cellular processes away from the leading edge.
- Microfluidic devices for studying chemotaxis and electrotaxis
- Trends Cell Biol 21(8):489-497 (2011)
Directed cell migration plays important roles in physiological processes such as host defense, wound healing, cancer metastasis and embryogenesis. Many organisms are capable of directional migration, which can be guided by diverse cellular factors including chemical and electrical cues. Recently, microfluidic devices that consist of small channels with micrometer dimensions are being developed for cell migration studies. These devices can precisely configure and flexibly manipulate chemical concentration gradients and electric fields, and thus can be used to study the complex guiding mechanisms for cell migration. In this paper we highlight recent applications of microfluidic devices for cell migration research, with a focus on electric field-directed cell migration, to provide important and timely updates of this rapidly developing research field.