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Bundles of Joy

Understanding more about how chromosomes segregate as a cell divides

13 January 2023

Bundles of Joy

Breaking a cell exactly in half requires huge feats of tiny engineering. Hundreds of proteins oversee the process of mitosis – but arguably the most crucial job, separating the precious DNA, still holds a few mysteries. Here scientists using super-resolution microscopy watch as microtubules – somewhere between fishing lines and microscopic scaffolding – (highlighted in green) first reach out from opposite sides of the cell towards the DNA (purple). The tubules meet in a criss-cross network seen from two different angles (top and bottom rows, left). Later in mitosis (middle and right) the tubules form thick bundles that bridge the gap between the different sides of the cell as the DNA lines up in the centre. Researchers believe kinetochores, linkers between DNA and microtubules, help to coordinate these overlap bundles,, which in turn guide the overall machinery as it begins the careful job of pulling the DNA apart.

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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