Many of the cells in our body are on the move, creeping through our tissues and adapting their shape to slide into wounds or fight infections. Here structural illumination microscopy (SIM) gives a 3D view of some of the delicate engineering required. Pictured from above, the cytoskeleton of this human cell is a bit like a tent frame, with concentric arcs of actin ‘poles’ rising up from the edge of the cell floor (blue, purple) to the ‘roof’ (green, red). These arcs can contract together, straining against tiny anchor points (called focal adhesions) in the cell floor and pulling and bending the cell into new shapes. Investigating how this remodelling enables healthy cells to poke their way into different environments may guide therapies to stop the wayward progression of cancer cells into new tissues.
Written by John Ankers
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