Biologists have shown how the body grows at the molecular level in real time

Biologists at Duke University study cells and what happens inside them. These processes correspond to the growth and

body shaping. New real-time imaging techniques are making it possible to observe the construction of some nanoscale constructs inside cells in action.

As part of the study, scientists were able to lookinside the cells of the developing fruit fly. Its growth process is coordinated by a fine network of protein fibers just below the surface of the cell, each 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. They help cells maintain their shape by acting like reinforcement in concrete, the scientists explain.

Photo: Molecular Biology of the Cell (2022). DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E21-11-0537

But unlike reinforcement, these fibers are constantlymove and change. Usually such details are too small. Observations with conventional microscopes, which can only take a few images per second or are too out of focus, are not representative.

So scientists at Duke University used ultra-high-resolution fluorescence microscopy to trace individual fibers at nanoscale resolution.

Video: Duke Research Blog

With this kind of observation, researchershope to better understand how wound healing occurs in humans and how abnormalities develop in children with birth defects such as cleft lip and spina bifida.

The results of the study are detailed in an article published in the journal Molecular Biology of the Cell.

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