Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Pores for Thought
16 July 2012

Pores for Thought

Modern microscopic techniques reveal biological landscapes that echo astronomical visualisations of planetary surfaces. And resolution is increasing all the time, with widely-used technology now rendering images of the surfaces inside our trillion body cells. Pictured here is the result of Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy, which is helping scientists investigate the structure and function of nuclear pores. Each cell nucleus bundles up some 2m of human DNA into a space many orders of magnitude smaller than anything visible to the human eye. Molecular instructions from this genetic code leave the nucleus via these miniscule portals. From the cell perspective, pores are some of the largest and most complex structures known. This nuclear surface from a monkey kidney cell forms part of a global research endeavour to further understand how the nucleus controls cell activity.

Written by Andrew Purcell

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