Functional dissection of mitotic chromatin


  • Prof Luis Aragon

    Imperial College London

Project summary

The compaction of chromosomes as cells enter mitosis is probably the most iconic process of dividing cells and represents one of the most fundamental biological processes, yet it is poorly understood. Recent work from Professor Aragon demonstrated that minichromosomes in yeast cells undergo a change characterised by an overwinding of the DNA double helix that is mediated by the condensin complex as chromosomes are compacted. Since nucleosomes impose underwinding on DNA, the observation implies that the distribution and/or conformation of nucleosomes must be altered during mitosis. This realisation provides a radical departure from the view that mitotic nucleosomes are a passive factor during chromosome assembly. Professor Aragon is aiming to investigate the nature and functional role of the histone component of mitotic chromosomes and to uncover the mechanisms by which histones contribute to chromosome condensation.