Research Group "Maintenance of Genome Stability" (Zuzana Storchova)
In the cell the DNA is wrapped in chromosomes that are present in duplicates each. During cell division, all chromosomes must be copied and distributed correctly to the daughter cells. If defects occur, too many or too little chromosomes can reach the daughter cells. Zuzana Storchova and her Research Group “Maintenance of Genome Stability” want to decipher how single extra chromosomes or excess chromosome sets affect the equilibrium of the cell. Using state-of-the-art microscopic methods, they can directly observe the distribution of the chromosomes during cell division in real time, as well as the subsequent fate of the cells with erroneous chromosomes. The scientists also use the method chromosome paint to visualize chromosomes via fluorescent dyes. On the picture a chromosome set is depicted including chromosome number 5 (light blue) four times. Excess chromosome sets can have positive as well as negative effects. Given that their genetic information is not directly necessary for the survival of the cells, new gene variants can be quickly tried out. Such modifications ensure the evolutional development of a species. On the other hand an altered number of chromosomes is also characteristic for cancer cells. The scientists have already identified some genes in yeast cells that ensure survival despite excess chromosome sets. If these genes also exist in human tumor cells, they could possibly be an important target for cancer therapy.