Tire-pump as an inspiration for possible treatment of tumours

05. 06. 2015

Cell division is one of the basic mechanisms that take place in all living organisms ceaselessly. Its malfunction causes severe disorders such as hereditary diseases or cancer. International team of researchers from Czech Republic, Germany and Netherlands was able to replenish another piece of the puzzle of molecular mechanisms that are important to understand how cell division works. They have informed about their discovery in prestigious research magazine Cell.

Researchers showed how cells use random motion of internal protein molecules to exert mechanical force needed for proper cell division. An important role in this mechanism lays on fibrous protein structures called microtubules, which serve as a scaffold of whole divisional apparatus. Proteins that are attached weakly to the space between these fibres, act similarly as gas particles inside of cylinder with piston - proteins, as well as gas particles, respond to every reduction of volume by increasing the pressure. In accordance with this basic principle, which we know from tire-pumps, proteins create a pressure between microtubules, like if there was a small piston or a spring between those two microtubules. This system produces one of the mechanical forces needed for proper cell division.


Zdeněk Lánský, PhD., czech representative in the international research team, says: "Our team succeeded in measuring these miniature forces thanks to optical tweezer - an apparatus that can be used for moving with miniature objects like single molecules with the help of a light beam. Thanks to this method we were able to prove described mechanism experimentally as well as theoretically. A clarification of this mechanism is one of the steps crucial for understanding of the whole complicated machinery of cell division and can lead to development of better targeted therapies in future."


Currently, Dr. Zdeněk Lánský establishes his own laboratory in BIOCEV centre, where he intends to use his experience with research of biological systems on the single-molecule level to continue to study mechanical forces in basic cell processes and to create artificial programmable biomolecular structures.




Lansky, Z., Braun, M., Ludecke, A., Schlierf, M., Rein ten Wolde, P., Janson, M. E., Diez, S. Diffusible Crosslinkers Generate Directed Forces in Microtubule Networks. Cell, 160(6): 1159-1168, 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.01.051. ISSN 0092-8674.