Lab News

Summer 2012: Cell stress and genome instability. My colleague Rong Li (Stowers Institute) and I co-authored a review on the evidence supporting the idea that cell 'stress' increases genome instability, changes selective pressures and thus contributes to adaptive evolution. I encourage anyone interested in these controversial ideas to read the review in Trends in Cell Biology. The main controversy that we discuss is the idea that there is an "active" mechanism that induces genomic instability to allow cells to adapt to changes to their homeostasis, otherwise refered to as cell 'stress'. There is no doubt that changing the selective pressures on cells results in the isolation of genetic variants but it remains difficult to be certain that this is an active process and not simply a part of the normal business of cells that becomes highly selected for under the right conditions. Our thinking on these issues stem from our studies on Hsp90 and kinetochore assembly as well as on the early changes associated with pre-cancer cells in the intestine. © K.B. Kaplan 2012