Proteins are the molecules inside cells that do stuff. They build the structures of cells, move things around, generate energy, send signals and much more. Yet they rarely work alone, teaming up through protein-protein interactions to perform specific jobs. One way of studying these interactions is by smashing cells open, extracting all the proteins and seeing which ones are stuck together. But this method might miss crucial couplings that aren’t stable enough to survive the process, and it doesn’t show where inside the cell the interactions are happening. Now researchers have developed a way of spotting proteins interacting inside living cells. The little green dots in this image of human HeLa cells reveal where two transport proteins are working together at the tips of tiny little spikes in the cell membrane. The technique enables scientists to spy on the working life of our proteins in greater detail than ever before.
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.