From a jumble of cells, the intricate shapes of our organs emerge. Hoping to get a better handle on how this happens, researchers looked to zebrafish, specifically their eyes. Developing zebrafish and human eyes form a cup-shaped structure, unsurprisingly called the optic cup. Researchers imaged the mass of cells (green) that develop into the cup. One group of cells constricted to form a dip in the cell mass. While another group of cells moved along to help create the edges of the characteristic C-shape of the cup, when viewed in cross-section (pictured). These movements depended on the cells extending projections and interacting with the surface on which they were travelling. Genetic mutants impaired in these processes (top right and bottom row) developed abnormal shapes in their developing optic cups when compared with normal zebrafish (top left). Ultimately forming even the simplest shapes needs groups of cells to get coordinated.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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.