Newly Found Filaments Inside Cells Might Be the Key to How They Divide

Breaking Away

Click here to get a bigger view of these filaments.Science/American Association for the Advancement of Science

Biologists have studied cell division for decades, yet the mechanics of how cells physically separate from one another have remained largely a mystery. To better understand the mechanism, molecular cell biologist Daniel Gerlich of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, along with colleagues from Switzerland and Germany, scanned dividing cells at various angles with electron beams.

The scientists used that data to create a 3-D image of the intercellular bridge, the region where cells split in two. The image showed the cell's internal skeleton, which includes microtubules [red], and also revealed previously unknown filaments [green] constricting the area where division occurs. Gerlich says that his next goal is to clarify the chemical composition of the mysterious filaments and the process by which they form.