Energy underpins everything we do; even reading this sentence uses up some energy. When cells in our body get stressed, they can’t afford to become distracted from the day-to-day task of maintaining their energy levels. The most abundant form of energy in cells comes packaged as molecules of ATP, which are produced when glucose is broken down. Much is known about how this process reacts under stress in whole organisms but less is known at the single cell level. Researchers now investigate how individual cells react when ATP levels drop by stressing cells using a drug that blocks glucose breakdown. Using fluorescent biosensors they imaged the activity of different signalling molecules over time, such as AMPK (pictured). This revealed dramatic differences in their activities from cell to cell, detected as low (white) or high (orange/brown) activity. These insights may provide clues to how metabolism affects disease at the cellular level.
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.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.