Cellular Fireworks

Emily Richardson - Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

emily richardson

Cells often have explosive structures during times of change or stress. This lung cancer cell is going through metaphase – the first stage of cell division. When cells go through cell division they become more round as the cytoskeleton prepares to segregate the cell. With this, the cell begins to float. Here, in a desperate attempt to keep the cell attached, the actin cytoskeleton (red) is tethering the cell to its environment (including to a neighbouring cell!). The DNA, in blue, has begun to align in the centre of the cell, ready to be split into two identical daughter cells.

By tagging proteins in the cell with fluorescent molecules one can study these dynamic processes. In my research it is crucial in order to study the actions of actin, and the complex interactions of other proteins, in cancer metastasis. By distinguishing these interactions potential inhibitory points can be discovered and used in therapeutics to stop the spread of tumours.