It’s a tricky balancing act. Cells must multiply so that children can grow and adults can heal, but cells which keep on growing and dividing when not required can turn into cancer. Working out how cells know when to grow, and when to stop is key to understanding and preventing cancer. These pancreatic cells have been genetically engineered and chemically treated to knock out an enzyme (called Lbk1) that suppresses tumour formation. Without the enzyme the tissue enlarges to form a cyst and then collapses in on itself like a deflated soufflé. The cells lining the cyst are fluorescently labelled to show the surface proteins (red), cell-to-cell binding proteins (yellow) and nuclei (blue). These lab-created cysts are very similar to naturally occurring pre-cancerous cysts, and are helping researchers understand what the malignant trigger might be.
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.