The Division of Life

Meiosis is the way new life is made,

Two rounds of cell division is its aim;

This is how information is conveyed,

Ensuring pairs of chromosomes remain.

 

Two rounds of cell division is its aim,

And whilst it tries its best this match to make;

Ensuring pairs of chromosomes remain

Means that the offspring’s welfare is at stake.

 

And whilst it tries its best this match to make,

The risk that there is not the right amount

Means that the offspring’s welfare is at stake;

We need something to fend off this miscount.

 

The risk that there is not the right amount,

Can new life end, before it has begun;

We need something to fend off this miscount

To regulate the way cell splitting’s done.

 

Can new life end before it has begun?

Enzymes can keep our chromosomes in twos

To regulate the way cell splitting’s done,

By keeping all of our genetic news.

 

Enzymes can keep our chromosomes in twos,

This is how information is conveyed;

By keeping all of our genetic news,

Meiosis is the way new life is made.

 

A close up of some human chromosomes (Photo Credit: Steffen Dietzel).
A close up of some human chromosome. By Steffen Dietzel (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0.

This is a pantoum, written about recent research that has identified an enzyme (PP2ACdc55) that is essential for chromosome segregation. Meiosis is a special type of cell division, whereby chromosomes are copied, paired up and separated to create eggs or sperm. This form of cell division ensures that when an egg and a sperm cell fuse together they have two copies of each chromosome, one from each parent. Unfortunately, during this process some of the chromosomes can be lost, or too many can be copied across; this is known as aneuploidy, and it can lead to genetic disorders such as Down’s Syndrome. Aneuploidy is also the leading cause of miscarriage. By identifying PP2ACdc55 as an enzyme that helps to better regulate this chromosome segregation, this research can hopefully lead to a better understanding of aneuploidy and how to avoid it.

 

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.

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