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Jonathon Pines

NOTE: In October 2015 Jonathon Pines took up the position of Head of Cancer Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. Some of his team will move to London at the end of April 2016, but the majority of his team will remain at the Gurdon Institute until the end of September 2017.


pinesJonathon Pines PhD FRS FMedSci

Head of Cancer Biology at the Institute of Cancer Research, London.

Pines Group website

Publications listed at: Europe PMC | Pubmed




How do cells control mitosis?

pines 2013How do cells regulate entry to mitosis? And, once in mitosis, how do cells coordinate chromosome segregation with cell separation to ensure that the two daughter cells receive an equal and identical copy of the genome? The answers to both questions are provided by the interplay between protein kinases, protein phosphatases, and APC/C-mediated proteolysis, and this is the focus of our research. Since mitosis is a highly dynamic process we study living cells by time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, but complement this with biochemical analyses on cells in which we have knocked-out or mutated specific mitotic regulators using somatic cell recombination.

To understand how cells trigger mitosis we are analysing the behaviour of the key mitotic kinases, the Cyclin A- and B-dependent kinases, and their regulation by phosphorylation and dephosphorylation. We developed a FRET biosensor to assay Cyclin B1-Cdk1 activity in vivo and are using this to define the pathways that regulate the timing of mitosis. To identify the proteins responsible for regulating the Cyclin-Cdks, and provide insights into Cyclin-Cdk substrates, we have analysed protein complexes through the cell cycle by SILAC mass spectrometry and are following up some of the exciting results from this screen.

To understand how proteolysis regulates progress through mitosis we complement the analysis of APC/C-dependent degradation in living cells with biochemical analyses of protein complexes and ubiquitination activity. These studies are revealing how the APC/C is activated and how it is able to select a particular protein for destruction at a specific time. Moreover, the intimate coupling of the APC/C with the spindle assembly checkpoint that is essential to the control of chromosome segregation has meant that our recent work has begun to elucidate the key events in the checkpoint pathway.


Selected publications:

• Izawa D and Pines J (2012) Mad2 and the APC/C compete for the same site on Cdc20 to ensure proper chromosome segregation. Journal of Cell Biology 199, 27-37

• Mansfeld J, Collin P, Collins MO, Choudhary J and Pines J (2011) APC15 drives the turnover of MCC-Cdc20 to make the spindle assembly checkpoint responsive to kinetochore attachment. Nature Cell Biology 13, 1234-1244.

• Pagliuca F, Collins MO, Lichawska A, Zegerman P, Choudhary JS and Pines J (2011) Quantitative proteomics reveals the basis for the biochemical specificity of the cell cycle machinery. Molecular Cell 43, 406-417.

• Gavet O and Pines J (2010) Progressive activation of Cyclin B1-Cdk1 coordinates entry to mitosis. Developmental Cell, 18, 533-543.

• Nilsson J,Yekezare M, Minshull J and Pines J (2008) The APC/C maintains the spindle assembly checkpoint by targeting Cdc20 for destruction. Nature Cell Beiology, 10, 1411- 1420



Plain English

We are trying to understand how one cell divides into two identical cells. It is particularly important that these two new 'daughter' cells receive the same set of genes because when this goes wrong, and one cell receives an extra or a damaged chromosome, this can lead to cancer. We now know that cells guard against problems in their division using particular proteins to block the next stage in the process, and it is only when the cell senses that everything is correct that these proteins are destroyed. This is the process that we are trying to understand, in essence: how does the cell destroy the right protein at the right time?


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