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Seeing the Details

Fluorescent tags enable high-resolution imaging of the interactions inside cells

08 November 2020

Seeing the Details

Looking at a tangled mess of computer wires, it can be impossible to tell what’s happening unless key wires are bright, easily seen, colours. Researchers examining the cellular skeleton – the structure that gives cells their shape and movement – have this problem, as the structure is so dense that it’s hard to discern any meaning under a microscope. A new study has found a way to highlight just those sections involved in particular processes, by only illuminating those interacting with other structures, in this case dividing mitochondria (the cell’s power station, blue). As a result, the researchers revealed that this multiplication, a process involved in generating extra energy when needed but also linked to conditions like cancer, is reliant on particular parts of the cytoskeleton (red). By pinpointing precise interactions like this, this tool can help untangle the web of cellular activity, and ultimately troubleshoot when things go wrong.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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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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