Schizosaccharomyces pombe

Paul Nurse : Areas of interest

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The goals of our laboratory are to better understand the global cellular networks which regulate the eukaryotic cell cycle, cell growth, and cell organization.

The cell cycle is a set of ordered and timely events that ultimately lead to the division of a cell into two daughters, a process that is fundamental to all life. Our work aims to better understand the global regulatory networks that feed into cell cycle control.

Using genetic screens in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe, a single-celled eukaryote that shares significant conservation with metazoans, we have identified the major Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK1/cdc2) and have shown that its increasing activity is central to cell cycle progression. 

By combining the genetic amenability of fission yeast, with a range of experimental approaches including phospho-proteomics, genome-wide deletion screens, and live-cell imaging, we are working to understand how the CDK regulatory networks control cell cycle transitions, and to identify new genes that have not previously been implicated in cell cycle control. 

Progression through the cell cycle is coordinated with cell growth. Fission yeast cells are an ideal system to study this phenomenon as they divide at a defined size and display cell size homeostasis between divisions.

However, it is currently unclear how cells monitor their own size and that of intracellular organelles, and how they integrate this information into cell cycle transition decision-making. Additionally, gene transcription and protein translation are both crucial for cell growth, though little is known about their global cellular regulation, so we are working to determine the rates of these processes in individual cells to better understand their regulation at the cellular level.

Our expectation is that these studies in fission yeast will lead to an improved understanding of equivalent controls in human cells, particularly important as uncontrolled cell growth and proliferation can lead to diseases such as cancer.  

Applications for research positions are welcome. No previous yeast experience is necessary as full training is provided. 

Selected publications