Supercharging cell division: how protein phosphatases define the temporal order of mitosis & cytokinesis

Francis Barr’s group is interested in how the polarization & division of human cells is regulated. Their work addresses a number of major questions about the processes needed for cell growth and division, and the consequences of dysregulation of these pathways in human cancers and other diseases. For example, one aim is to describe the molecular mechanisms human cells use to regulate cell division and coordinate the processes of chromosome segregation and cytokinesis, with particular focus paid to the role of protein phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. In this area they have ongoing projects examining the regulation of protein phosphatases in dividing cells, and how PP1 and PP2A phosphatases contribute important timing properties to the metaphase to anaphase transition. A major focus is on the mitotic kinase Aurora A & its control by protein phosphatase 6 (PP6).