Intrinsic, periodic and tunable metabolic dynamics: a scaffold for cellular coherence

Alexandros Papagiannakis

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Cells grow and divide, sharing their duplicated components between two progenies. Their life cycle is also known as the cell cycle. It has been 16 years since the Nobel prize was jointly awarded to Leland Hartwell, Timothy Hunt and Paul Nurse for the discovery of the cell cycle machinery, a protein machinery inside cells that controls the processes of cell growth and division. Still, scientists remain puzzled by the fact that cells can divide even without crucial components of this machinery. Is there another regulator next to the cell cycle machinery?

When we zoomed into the metabolism of individual baker’s yeast cells we discovered periodic fluctuations, an autonomous metabolic rhythm setting the pace of cell growth and division. Metabolism beats faster and louder in well-fed cells, whereas it beats slower and less loud when nutrition is poor. After observing hundreds of yeast cells, we discovered that those individuals with a faint metabolic beat would fail to commence their cell cycle. Only cells with a strongly beating metabolism would proceed to grow and divide.

Because central metabolism is the same from bacteria to humans, we are possibly witnessing the activity of a primitive metabolic clock and cell cycle regulator, still ticking in yeast and maybe also humans. If we knew the clockwork of metabolism, we could eventually intervene to ultimately control diseases with uncontrolled cell growth.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Groningen
  • Heinemann, Matthias, Supervisor
Award date15-May-2017
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Print ISBNs978-94-6299-596-3
Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9792-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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