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A Different Perspective I Cell Mates

3D mapping of proteins inside cells

24 May 2022

Cell Mates

Architects often wander through their buildings, examining details up close – gaining a different perspective to a flat drawing or table-top model. Here cell biologists use virtual reality to step inside a cell – strolling past structures they might normally only see twinkling under a microscope, reaching out every now and then to label them in different colours. Looking a little like a child’s climbing frame, this is a reconstruction of a network of intermediate filaments – rigid molecules of keratin that prop up the cell like girders in a skyscraper. The scientist’s models – based on microscopy scans – also give them a sort of virtual skeleton on which to hang future mechanobiological details. Next maybe: the neighbouring network of stretchy actin molecules that uproot this tiny architecture so cells can wander through their environment during development or diseases like cancer.

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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