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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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April 12, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts

When cells divide, they cannot perform any other task at that moment.

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Study Resolves Debate on Human Cell Division

Researchers have resolved the debate over the shut-down process during cell division

Research findings at the University of Liverpool, published in the journal PNAS, may contribute to future studies on how scientists could manipulate this shut-down process to ensure that viruses and other pathogens do not enter the cells of the body and cause harm.

Previous research has shown that when cells divide, they cannot perform any other task apart from this one.

They cannot, for example, take in food and fluids at the same time as managing the important process of dividing into 'daughter cells' to replicate the body's genetic information. Cells, instead, shut-down the intake of food and fluid during cell division and for many years it was thought that they did this by preventing a vehicle - called a receptor - from transporting nutrients through the cell membrane.

In recent years scientists have shown evidence to suggest that this theory may be wrong. Scientists have argued that the cell does not shut down the mechanisms that allow food and fluid to enter the cell as previously thought, but rather the receptors that transport this fuel are absent altogether during cell division, allowing the cell to focus on the one task of dividing.

Studies at Liverpool, however, have now shown that the original theory, first documented in 1965, is accurate. The receptors are present and able to transport food and fluid during cell division, but the mechanism that allows them through the membrane of the cell shuts-down until cell division is complete.

Dr Stephen Royle, from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine, explains: "We know that cells in the body do not have the ability to multi-task during cell division. It can only focus on the job of dividing and not on other important tasks such as uptake of nutrients. If we think of the cell membrane like a dock at a port and the receptors as a boat delivering cargo, we have shown that the boat, or receptor, is present but the dock, or membrane, does not allow it to unload or go any further.

"Viruses and pathogens use the same route into cells as nutrients, so the next stage of this work is to identify the trigger for this shut-down process, so that we understand whether this on/off switch can be manipulated to prevent harmful infections passing through the cell membrane. This is a long way in the future, but this work puts us closer to understanding how the cells in the body work."

The work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-04/cp-fxs040612.php