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Show Your Teeth

Super-resolution microscopy reveals architecture of cells' podosomes – actin structures involved in motility and engulfing

16 August 2022

Show Your Teeth

Phagocytes are immune cells with a big appetite. They usually engulf whole pathogens, but this phagocyte has been fooled – placed over a glass plate loaded with tempting antibodies it stretches out over something it can never consume. This ‘frustrated’ phagocytosis allows researchers to peek at the molecular machinery involved, poking a microscope into the opening 'jaw' of a phagocyte. A technique called iPALM highlights its skeleton of tiny actin filaments that rearrange to form rings of pointy structures called podosomes – sometimes known as phagocytic teeth – used to latch onto targets at the beginning of phagocytosis. Rainbow colours highlight actin fibres at different depths, giving researchers hints to the 3D structure of podosomes, that future drug treatments may influence to improve the fight against disease-carrying pathogens.

Written by John Ankers

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