Most of our genetic information is locked up inside the nucleus of each of our cells. Access to it is controlled by the gateway to the nucleus – the nuclear pore complex. But the exact structure of this important piece of cell machinery has long perplexed scientists – until now. This image of the surface of a cell nucleus obtained using super-resolution microscopy (which can reveal much more detail than an ordinary light microscope) shows it’s spangled with many tiny nuclear pores. Using a newly developed method, researchers were able to combine thousands of separate images to work out exactly where a pore’s Y-shaped protein building blocks were in relation to its centre, to within a nanometre – that’s three billion times more accurate than the best civilian GPS. The same technique could also be used to uncover more about the complicated mechanisms that enable cells to divide.
Written by Robin Hersom
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.