Research NewsCell Biology

Pinning Down Cell Division

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Science  12 Dec 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5345, pp. 1883-1884
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5345.1883

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Cell biologists have long known that the cell's progress toward division is controlled by a group of kinases, enzymes that add phosphate groups to a variety of cell proteins. For the most part, though, they've had few clues to what those phosphate additions actually do. Now, new work reported on page 1957 suggests that the phosphates serve as a sort of tag for attracting an enzyme called Pin1, which may cause the phosphorylated proteins to change their shapes. Researchers don't yet know exactly what this accomplishes, although they point to several possibilities, such as turning off an active enzyme, directing a protein to a new place in the cell, or targeting a protein for degradation. Whatever the precise result, however, the work provides a new function for phosphorylation, researchers say.