In “Obscure Organelle in Stem Cells and Cancer” (The Scientist , September 11, 2011) Kerry Grens reports,
Cellular structures known as midbodies, formed during cell division, appear to accumulate in stem cells and cancer cells, hinting at a potential function for these once-disregarded organelles.
Midbodies, once considered the rubbish of cell division, might have a function beyond their role in getting daughter cells to separate. Researchers show in today’s Nature Cell Biology that stem cells and cancer cells collect used midbodies, whereas differentiated cells digest the organelle through autophagy.
There must be some reason the cell doesn’t just get rid of them like all the rest.
“The midbody is now emerging as a signaling center or an organizer for things that may have to do with the stemness of cells,” said Andreas Ettinger, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, who was not involved in this study.
Time-lapse of GFP-actin in a cell going through mitosis. You can see the contractile ring form, which ends up forming the mid-body:
See also: Junk DNA: The Darwin faithful know in their hearts that it’s still junk