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Super resolution microscopy reveals cytoskeleton organisation and forces at play in cell adhesion

27 May 2021

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Dotted around on the inner surface of our cells, focal adhesions act like tiny 'feet', but how they sense the floor is still a little mysterious. In this mammalian cell, scientists use their own sensors to snoop on what’s going on using super-resolution microscopy. One sensor sticks to a molecule called integrin on the underside of the cell, stretching as it wriggles to release tiny bursts of light (red dots). The speckled pattern suggests clusters of integrin may determine where focal adhesions form inside the cell – seen as clusters of tiny bone-like actin filaments in the cell’s cytoskeleton (yellow showing the filaments closest to the underlying surface, blue furthest away). Researchers might aim to exploit this mechanical link between neighbouring molecules inside and outside cells to guide their movement in health and disease.

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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