Image of the Day: Break Apart

Scientists can now view mitosis one protein (or more) at a time using a 4-D computer model.

Sep 13, 2018
Sukanya Charuchandra
Five different proteins are tracked during cell division.  
ARINA RYBINA AND JULIUS HOSSAIN, ELLENBERG GROUP, EMBL

The process of cell division can now be viewed with a Mitotic Cell Atlas that captures the interaction between a combination of up to seven protein types among 28 available to choose from as one cell makes two. Using this open-source, 4-D, interactive computer model, researchers can select various proteins and see how they cooperate with each other in real-time during mitosis. 

The study appeared September 10 in Nature and used CRISPR-Cas to make the proteins fluorescent in HeLa cells that were viewed under 3-D confocal microscopy. These imaging data were then coalesced into the Atlas. Several hundred more proteins that participate in mitosis need to be imaged and integrated into this system.

“Besides mitosis, the technologies developed here can be used to study proteins that drive other cellular functions, for example cell death, cell migration or metastasis of cancer cells,” coauthor Jan Ellenberg of EMBL says in a statement.“By looking at the dynamic networks these proteins form, we can identify critical vulnerabilities, points where there’s only one protein responsible to link two tasks together without a back-up.”

Y. Cai et al., “Experimental and computational framework for a dynamic protein atlas of human cell division,” Nature, doi:10.1038/s41586-018-0518-z, 2018.