The Cell Cycle and Human Diseases

Cell division is the key to life. We all started out as a single cell, which divided billion of times to form an organism with complex tissue structures and the ability to think, create and learn. Defects in cell division are often fatal at an early stage of human development. Mutations in the germline can lead to genetic disorders that impair physical and mental abilities such as microcephaly or DNA repair-deficiency disorders, which increase the predisposition for diseases that occur later in life. On the other hand, mutations in dividing somatic cells can lead to genome instability, which is a hallmark of cancer. Many of the above-mentioned diseases are related to defects in the cell cycle, which coordinates genome and cell organelle duplication with cell division. Main topics of this course include genetic disorders that are related to mechanisms of cell division and are discussed using primary literature. Central elements of the cell division machinery and disease-causing defects are investigated in the laboratory using fluorescent imaging of living cells in combination with clinically relevant drugs and protein-specific chemical inhibitors.

Prerequisites or Prior Knowledge

Required: Basic knowledge of molecular biology and genetics.

Recommended complementary courses: Molecular Oncology and Cell Signaling (Prof. Yamamoto); Molecular Biology of the Cell (Prof. Kono) and Modern Genetic Technologies (Prof. Kiyomitsu)