July 8th- 19th, 2019 | IFOM, Milan - Italy
The physiological state of a cell is largely defined by the set of genes that are switched on and off. The activation state of genes is a function of external stimuli, but also of the activation state of other genes. In other words, cells’ behavior is determined by complex networks whose nodes are genes that respond to external and internal cues.
When we talk generically about 'cells', however, we are making a big assumption. A cell population is formed by thousands of cells (organisms even more). The behavior of each individual cell is quite hard to follow, while it is much easier to study the average behavior. Indeed, a large part of the experiments performed in laboratories are done in the assumption that the average behavior of a cell population also represents the behavior of its individual components. The average assumption is many times correct, but it can also be very wrong.
In this module, we will show one particular case where the average population behavior differs dramatically from what individual cells actually do. We will do so in the context of the mitotic checkpoint, a surveillance pathway that monitors chromosome segregagtion at cell division.