Some members of the sirtuin protein family have been implicated in age-related diseases. Researchers now report that one family member, SIRT2, regulates cell division and suppresses tumour formation in mice.

SIRT2 localizes to structures that assist in cell division, but its role in the development of cancer has been unclear. Chu-Xia Deng of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and his colleagues found that some human tumours produce abnormally low levels of SIRT2, and that mice lacking the Sirt2 gene are prone to tumours.

Cells lacking SIRT2 also failed to divide properly: about 35% of Sirt2-mutant cells grown in culture had an abnormal number of chromosomes. Lack of SIRT2 reduced the activity of a complex of proteins called APC/C, which is vital for correct apportioning of chromosomes into dividing cells.

Cancer Cell 20, 487–499 (2011)