Our bodies are constantly making cells – new ones for growth, and replacement ones for damaged or dead cells. But cells don’t just appear. They are manufactured when an existing cell makes a copy of its DNA-containing chromosomes (shown in pink), and then splits to produce two, identical new cells. Cells can split in any orientation – up/down, left/right, diagonally – but the split needs to generate two equal halves, a process not left to chance. Scientists have been researching a protein LGN (shown in green) that plays a role in balancing the division. The normal cell (left) sees chromosomes line up down the middle between two crescents of LGN. When they used a drug to shift the chromosomes off-centre (right), the pattern of LGN signalling changed. The chromosomes themselves seem to influence the signal. Unpicking cause from effect in molecular systems is a complex business.
Written by Helen Pilcher
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.