In order to grow or heal a wound, our cells need to divide. It’s a careful, but violent process that rips a parent cell apart into two ‘daughters’. This nucleus of a human lung cell is trying to separate from another (not visible) daughter cell during division, or mitosis. But something has gone wrong – the DNA usually shared among daughter cells has been caught between them, and it’s structural material (chromatin) unravels into fibre-like bunches, highlighted in bright colours. The nucleus struggles in a tug of war, pulling at one end of the DNA – the stress is so great that it deforms into a teardrop shape. 3D structured illumination microscopy uses patterns of laser light to discriminate the bumps and ridges in this tiny biology. Such techniques are helping to rewrite the textbooks on development and disease, as previously 'known' biological processes are revisited for a fresh look.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) 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.