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Biologists discover how biological clock controls cell division in bacteria

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A team of biologists has unraveled the biochemistry of how bacteria so precisely time cell division, a key element in understanding how all organisms from bacteria to humans use their biological clocks to control basic cellular functions.

The discovery, detailed in the February 19 issue of the journal Cell, provides important clues to how the biological clocks of bacteria and other "prokaryotic" cellswhich lack cell nucleievolved differently from that of "eukaryotic" cells with nuclei that comprise most other forms of life, from fungi to plants and animals.

"A major question in biology is how the circadian clock machinery is different in bacteria than it is in plants, animals and fungi," said Susan Golden, a professor of biology at UC Sana Diego, who headed the study. "We looked at how the biological clock controls when bacterial cells dividein bacteria, there's a period of four hours where the cells are not allowed to divideand we identified the structural changes in a key protein that controls this action."
 
 

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