On Thursday 22 May 2014, the President of Royal Society and 2001 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, Sir Paul Nurse, gave a public speech at The Royal Library, The Black Diamond
Controlling the Cell Cycle
Both S-phase and mitosis are common to all cell cycles and both are necessary for the two newly divided cells to receive a full complement of genes. In fission yeast the onset of S-phase and mitosis can be controlled by a single cyclin dependent kinase with different levels of CDK activity bringing about progression through the cell cycle in an orderly fashion. A low CDK activity is sufficient to bring about S-phase whilst a high activity blocks a further S-phase and is needed for onset of mitosis. A G2 cell can be programmed to undergo either S-phase or mitosis simply by modifying CDK activity indicating there is no inherent direction in the cell cycle.
Professor at Institute for Bioscience, Aarhus University, Tobias Wang writes about the Laureate:
Sir Paul Maxime Nurse was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2001 together with Leland H. Hartwell and R. Timothy Hunt for discovering the genes and proteins that control how cell divide. Cell division is essential for growth and the replenishment of old cells, but is also at the culprit of understanding cancer. Nurse identified the gene cdc2 as being essential for cell division in yeast, and later the corresponding gene was found in humans. Together with the studies by Hartwell and Hunt, these discoveries led to the understanding of the so-called “checkpoint proteins”, that confirm whether the cell divides properly, whilst other proteins serve to repair and destroy the cells where proper division fails. It is often the incorrectly dividing cells that can cause cancer and other serious diseases. Nurse continues to study the molecular machinery to cell division as Chief Executive and Director of the prestigious Francis Crick Institute. He has received many honours and is currently President of the Royal Society. Nurse is publically outspoken and challenges political decisions based on pseudoscience, he has supported the teaching of evolution and has advocated the importance of stem cell research.