Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 11th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Understanding cell division in a minimal cell system – towards developing synthetic cells

24 November 2022

The Ring FtsZ

Cells are often described as life’s building blocks, and yet they still hold mysteries. One way to find out more is to build a cell from scratch. In these cell-like lipid vesicles, synthetic biology researchers assemble a set of proteins involved in bacterial division to mimic the process artificially – including Min proteins (highlighted in purple) and FtsZ, a protein that helps to form contractile rings (green) around dividing E. coli. Repeating patterns of Min along the vesicles, help the FtsZ ring to jostle into place, like a wedding ring wiggled onto a finger (although 1000 times smaller). The rings begin to contract around the vesicles – during cytokinesis – the final stage of cell division – this would eventually tear real cells in two. With a promising approach to artificial division, the next challenge is recreating another engineering feat of the cell, DNA replication.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

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.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.