December 9, 2010

Some of the most striking and informative images aren’t of cells or organisms, but are computer-generated representations of what is going on in cells or organisms. These computer-generated images come from the use of two-photon microscopy, a powerful technique that allows for imaging of tissue that’s buried deep in a living organism.

Zebrafish is a freshwater fish that serves as a great model organism to cell and developmental biologists. During development, cells undergo dramatic reorganization during formation of the central nervous system, a process called neurulation. A recent paper describes the interaction between two proteins, called Protocadherin-19 and N-cadherin, and how these two proteins regulate cell movements during neurulation. These proteins together regulate cell-cell adhesion at a time when cells converge together to form a midline seam in the neural plate, a key feature of brain development. Images above are cell trajectories taken from time-lapse series of zebrafish embryos undergoing neurulation. The trajectories of cells in a normal embryo (top left) show a convergence of cells to the midline and a general movement of cells in one direction. Cells showed compromised movement in embryos with low levels of either protocadherin-19 (top, right), N-cadherin (bottom, left), or both (bottom, right).

BONUS!! Cool movies of two-photon image sequences can be found here.

ResearchBlogging.orgBiswas, S., Emond, M., & Jontes, J. (2010). Protocadherin-19 and N-cadherin interact to control cell movements during anterior neurulation Originally published in The Journal of Cell Biology, 191 (5), 1029-1041 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201007008

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