Press play on this short video and alien-like blobs crawl across the screen, shot through with green flashes like fairy lights. They are in fact single cells wriggling around on a plastic dish in the lab, revealing important information about the molecules that control how cells move. Cell mobility is essential for many processes of life, including wound healing and fighting infection. The motors that drive this movement are molecules on the surface of cells called integrins (labelled green), which act like tiny ‘hands’ to grab onto their surroundings and pull them along. When they’ve done their job, the integrins get shuttled inside the cell until they’re needed again. By controlling exactly when and where their integrins go, cells can get to the right place at the right time. Learning more about how this works could lead to more effective ways to zip up wounds in the future.
Written by Kat Arney
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.