Scientists from Cancer Research UK studied a set of mutant strains of yeast in each of which a single gene had been deleted. Each strain was examined to see if cell reproduction or cell shape was changed and in this way all the genes involved in these processes were identified.
The researchers visually screened 4843 yeast mutants, each with a different gene deleted, to observe the effects on cell reproduction and formation. The genes investigated comprise 95.7% of total protein encoding genes. A total of 513 genes were identified as being required for cell cycle progression, 276 of which have not been previously described as cell cycle genes. Deletions of a further 333 genes lead to specific alterations in cell shape and another 524 genes result in generally misshapen cells. Their results describe a near genome-wide set of genes required for the cell cycle and cell shape.
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: “For the first time our researchers have created a complete picture of the genes that control cell growth and behaviour in yeast cells, which could reveal more about how cancer starts and develops and highlight new ways to tackle the disease.
“Research like this will be central to the work at the Francis Crick Institute, a new super- laboratory in London headed by Professor Sir Paul Nurse [co-author of this paper], where scientists will tackle major diseases such as cancer using the very latest technologies.”