November 4, 2010

Back when I was a budding little scientist, I joined the first lab that showed me glowing cells in a whole living organism. It wasn’t a rule I made for myself and my research had nothing to do with those particular cells called seam cells, but I knew that a lab with glowing worms would be a cool place to be.

Seam cells are hypodermal cells that are aligned along the left and right sides of the worm C. elegans. They serve an important purpose in postembryonic development—after the worm hatches, seam cells undergo stem-cell-like divisions that produce several different types of cells. A recent paper describes the role of spindle checkpoint proteins, which ensure proper chromosome segregation during mitosis, in the postembryonic divisions of seam cells. When one of these checkpoint proteins, MDF-2 (Mad2), is missing, the number and alignment of seam cells is disrupted. Images above show seam cells (green) in normal (top) and mdf-2 mutant (bottom) worms. The mutant worms frequently have extra or clustered seam cells (box) instead of the ordered alignment seen in normal worms.

Reference: Maja Tarailo-Graovac, Jun Wang, Jeffrey SC Chu, Domena Tu, David L Baillie and Nansheng Chen. Authors’ BMC Cell Biology paper can be found here.

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