In a discovery that shows how much more we have to discover in biology, a paper in Nature outlines an additional feature of cell division previously unknown - your chromosomes aren't just passive structures being transported, but are actively involved in the process.
Cytokinesis is a point in cell division in which the cell begins to split into two, pinching in the membrane. By studying fruit flies, the team found that instead of allowing microtubules to do all the work, the chromosomes themselves actually emit a chemical signal central to division. An enzyme complex at the kinetochores (the bit which microtubules attach to at the centre of each chromosome) called Sds22-PP1 was involved with this signalling, triggering a softening of the polar membranes and allowing elongation and division at the cell's equator.
"We must continue to expand our knowledge about the basic processes and signals involved in normal cell division to understand how they can go awry, or how they can be exploited...different cell types in the body, and even in the same tissue, do not always divide in exactly the same way. For example, stem cells divide asymmetrically, while most other cells divide symmetrically, and we still do not understand these differences in molecular terms. With the help of robust and well-characterised genetic models, such as the fruit fly, we will get there. Ultimately, this could help the rational design of more specific therapies to inhibit the division of cancer cells, ideally without affecting the healthy cells that are dividing at the same time”
As we accumulate more knowledge on the intricacies of cell biology, more pathways continue to emerge to study in the fight against disease, offering greater hope for the future.
Read more at Science 2.0