Hunting the mechanisms of self-renewal of immortal cell populations by means of real-time imaging of living cells


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The causes of the indefinite propagation of immortalized cell populations remain insufficiently understood, that hinders the research of such fundamental processes as ageing and cancer. In this study the interrelations between clonal proliferation and abnormalities of mitotic divisions in the immortalized cell line established from the mouse embryo were investigated with the aid of computerized microscopy of living cells. 3 mitoses with three daughter cells and 7 asymmetric mitoses which generated two daughter cells of conspicuously different sizes were registered among 71 mitotic divisions in the individual cell genealogy. Abnormal mitotic divisions either did not slow the proliferation in cell clones compared with progenies of cells that divided by means of normal mitoses or were followed by the acceleration of divisions in consecutive cell generations. These data suggest that abnormal mitotic divisions may contribute to the maintenance of the immortalized state of cell populations by means of generating chromosomal instability.