Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis made a discovery that uncovers the molecular logic of how dividing cells are stopped in their tracks. The team zeroed in on a specific protein, whose job is to stop a cell from dividing or to slow the division.
Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have obtained the first experimental evidence that there are at least two fail-safe points in the bacterial cell cycle. If the fail-safes are activated, the cell is forced to exit the cell cycle forever. It then enters a zombie-like state and is unable to reproduce even under the most favorable of conditions. Drugs that trigger the fail-safes are already under development.
Bacteria adjust to wide fluctuations in food supply by controlling how big they get and how often they divide. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have just worked out the control system E. coli use to delay division so they can bulk up when food suddently becomes abundant. What can be delayed can also be stopped, so the control system may provide an opportunity to design a new class of antibiotics.