Ever since we were all single-celled zygotes hurtling through Fallopian tubes, the process of individual cells splitting and forming new ones has been one of the keys to our continued existence. It happens trillions of times every day, but that doesn’t mean we have it all figured out.
By Jordan Pearson|MOTHERBOARD
New research has uncovered a previously unknown player in cell division: chromosomes, the x’s and y’s that carry most of an organism’s DNA. Previously, chromosomes were thought to be just along for the ride during cell division, pulled to either pole of a cell by microscopic tube-like structures called microtubules.
Far from being biological freeloaders, however, chromosomes actually contribute to cell division, according to a paper by by researchers at the University of Montreal and University College London in the UK published today in Nature. They do this by emitting a chemical signal that softens the membrane at the poles of the cell, allowing it to stretch out during a key stage of division called cytokinesis.