Stem cells and cancer cells seem to have more in common besides an ability to divide much more freely than normal adult cells – the persistence of structures called midbodies that are, as currently understood, important only in cell division. This raises the question of whether midbodies have functions, besides helping in cell division, that are common to both stem cells and cancer cells.
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.