During the cytokinesis process, chromosomes were found to be actively involved in dividing animal cells, a new study reveals.
Providing new insights in the field of molecular biology, the finding of the scientific consortium is hailed as a breakthrough in understanding fundamental life processes.
Chromosomes have been held to only passively play a role in cytokinesis, as they are pulled apart by microtubules. The researchers found that in fact chromosomes are quite active in the cytokinesis process, as they emit signals that affect the microtubules as the cells are dividing.
The registered signals were observed in the fruit-fly cells, where the chromosomes emitted phosphatase Sds22-PP1, an enzyme that outlines the cells, rendering the cell membrane soft in order for it to stretch and split during cytokinesis. The cortex of the cell was targeted specifically.
Gilles Hickson of Montreal University, assistant professor and co-author on the study featuring in the Nature journal, stated:
“We have been watching cells divide for more than 100 years, but we continue to seek to understand the molecular mechanisms involved. This is important because cell division is so central to life, and to certain diseases”.
Indeed, the finding of the Canadian and British consortium could greatly improve the understanding of cytokinesis for cancer cells. Certainly, an entire array of new research is needed to target specifically the molecular process in light of the new finding. Yet, therapies that may stem from understanding that chromosomes play a role in cytokinesis could go a long way in battling cancer.
Since 2010, this hypothesis has become a challenge for the scientific community. A study published at the time in Elsevier journal already had suggested that cytokinesis holds the key for carcinogenesis.
Cell division is a fundamental life process, developing an entire organism from just one cell. Through billions of divisions, one cell is the stem point of a variety of tissues and other cells that continue the cytokinesis process daily in order to support the organisms.
The finding of the scientific consortium regarding the role of chromosomes in cytokinesis hold invaluable promise on knowledge advancement for treating the ‘errors’ that occur in cell division, often leading to cancer.
Gilles Hickson underlined that while this discovery is indeed valuable for further steering of molecular and disease biology, it is premature to directly target cancer for instance.
“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”.
There is still room for further research in cell division, as not all cells divide similarly. One example are stem cells which present an asymmetric division,.
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