Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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A Different Perspective I Cell Mates

3D mapping of proteins inside cells

24 May 2022

Cell Mates

Architects often wander through their buildings, examining details up close – gaining a different perspective to a flat drawing or table-top model. Here cell biologists use virtual reality to step inside a cell – strolling past structures they might normally only see twinkling under a microscope, reaching out every now and then to label them in different colours. Looking a little like a child’s climbing frame, this is a reconstruction of a network of intermediate filaments – rigid molecules of keratin that prop up the cell like girders in a skyscraper. The scientist’s models – based on microscopy scans – also give them a sort of virtual skeleton on which to hang future mechanobiological details. Next maybe: the neighbouring network of stretchy actin molecules that uproot this tiny architecture so cells can wander through their environment during development or diseases like cancer.

Written by John Ankers

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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.

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