Our cells have an internal skeleton that gives them support and shape. Made from protein structures, this cytoskeleton can disassemble and regroup allowing the cell to carry out new functions. Pictured is a ball of kidney cells. Structural proteins (in green and purple) highlight the outer edges. When treated with a ‘growth factor’ the skeleton of each cell extends. The resulting protrusions help cells move with an amoeba-like crawl. Although the mechanics of travelling cells have been well documented in 2D, this research is the first observation in a 3D environment. This model system will help researchers understand how organs develop, in ever more detail.
Written by Charles Harvey