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Volume 549 Issue 7672, 21 September 2017

When a proliferating population of cells completes mitosis, some of the newly born daughter cells immediately enter the next cell cycle whereas other cells switch to a quiescent state. In this week’s issue, Tobias Meyer and his colleagues reveal how competing memories inherited from the mother cells lead the daughter cells to decide whether to stop or start the subsequent cell cycle. Growth signals cause an accumulation of cyclin D1 messenger RNA in the mother cells, whereas DNA damage leads the cells to contain a higher amount of activated p53. These are passed on to the daughter cells, where the cyclin D1 mRNA is translated into protein and p53 promotes production of the protein p21. Daughter cells that inherit larger amounts of cyclin D1 continue through to the next cell cycle, and those that have a high amount of activated p53 move into quiescence. This results in a system of cell-cycle control that maximizes the health of growing cell populations by preferentially selecting cells with a history of low DNA damage for more frequent proliferation. Cover image: Jeroen Claus/Phospho Biomedical Animation

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