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Cell Bent
26 April 2014

Cell Bent

Many of the cells in our body are on the move, creeping through our tissues and adapting their shape to slide into wounds or fight infections. Here structural illumination microscopy (SIM) gives a 3D view of some of the delicate engineering required. Pictured from above, the cytoskeleton of this human cell is a bit like a tent frame, with concentric arcs of actin ‘poles’ rising up from the edge of the cell floor (blue, purple) to the ‘roof’ (green, red). These arcs can contract together, straining against tiny anchor points (called focal adhesions) in the cell floor and pulling and bending the cell into new shapes. Investigating how this remodelling enables healthy cells to poke their way into different environments may guide therapies to stop the wayward progression of cancer cells into new tissues.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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