The Cell Division CycleControlling when and where cells divide and differentiate

Published April 2009 Updated October 2013 26 lectures
Prof. Jonathan Millar
University of Warwick, UK

The adult human body contains around 100 trillion cells. These are generated by multiple cycles of cell division from the fusion of a single sperm and egg. There are more than 200 different cell types in the human body, each of which is functionally distinct and spatially restricted. Controlling when... read moreand where cells divide and differentiate is crucial for generating tissues and organs that develop and function correctly. Continued proliferation of certain cell types is important in adults for proper immune function, sexual reproduction, wound healing and tissue regeneration. In particular stem cells, which proliferate throughout our lifetime, replenish cells that are either damaged or removed by programmed apoptosis (cell death).

However unrestrained or inappropriate cell proliferation can lead to defects in chromosome replication and stability, tumourigenesis and, ultimately, cancer. This can occur following infection by certain DNA tumour viruses, mutational activation of oncogenes or inactivation of tumour suppressor genes. For this reason the pharmaceutical industry has invested significant effort into developing drugs that target the cell cycle machinery.

This series of talks plots the key discoveries over the past 30 years that have led to our current understanding of the cell cycle machinery and highlights the issues that are still grabbing the attention of researchers in the field today.