They used a high throughput automated time-lapse light microscopy approach to systematically analyze over 10,000 single cells from 15 cell lines in response to three different classes of anti-mitotic drug. This revealed the large variation in cell behavior with cells within any given line exhibiting multiple fates.
Dr Taylor explained: "We know that anti-mitotic drugs block the final stage of the cell division process, mitosis. How the cells then die is a mystery.
"We embarked on a fresh, more direct approach that is actually quite simple. Basically, we just watched the cells using time-lapse microscopy; this allowed us to track the behaviour of individual cells and determine their fate when exposed to different anti-mitotic drugs.
"The first thing we realised was that the picture was much more complicated that we originally thought; the range of different behaviours was profound. Not only did cells from different cell lines behave differently, but cells within the same line also behaved differently.
"The level of complexity was at first overwhelming. However, as we slowly made our way through the data, patterns began to emerge. This allowed us to formulate a new hypothesis. We were then able to design more experiments to test this hypothesis.
"In essence, it turns out that when cells are exposed to these drugs they arrest in mitosis. Then a race starts between two competing cellular signalling networks. One network is trying to kill the cell, the other is trying to cause the cell to exit mitosis and thus allow the cell to survive. The winner of the race decides the fate of the cell; death or survival.
"The factors inf
|Contact: Mikaela Sitford|
University of Manchester