The body clock of mammals — or circadian rhythm — is synchronised with the cell-division cycle, but little is known about how the two work together.
Now a team of researchers from The Rockefeller University in New York have imaged single proliferating fibroblasts in mice and found that the cell division cycle is set to the tissue-level clock in a 1:1 fashion1.
When they used a drug to disrupt this synchronized behaviour, cell division began to outpace the circadian clock, leading to rapid cell proliferation. This, the researchers say, could help explain why shift-workers are more susceptible to cancer and might better inform chemotherapy.
1. Feillet C et al. PNAS . 2014: 1320474111v1-201320474.