Yale researchers have discovered why a certain type of blood cell gets so big. This finding also gives clues as to how leukemia can occur when the process goes wrong. The cells in question, megakaryocytes, are blood cells that produce wound-healing platelets. They grow to a giant size because the DNA within their nuclei duplicate many times without going through endomitosis, or cell division. The research team found that two proteins prevent mitosis from occurring. The gene implicated in malignant leukemias, MKL1 (megakaryoblastic leukemia 1) also appears to be a component of normal megakaryocyte maturation. “These findings reveal another important step toward the formation of functional platelets, which are necessary for normal blood clotting,” Diane Krause, senior author of the study, said. “But they also provide a clue regarding what may go awry to transform normal megakaryocytes into malignant leukemia cells.”
For more about this research, check out this video.