Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, blogs about MBL Whitman Scientists Jesse Gatlin and Timothy Mitchison and their explorations of cellular dynamics using resources from the National Xenopus Resource at MBL.
By Francis Collins
Ever thought about giving cell biology a whirl? If so, I suggest you sit down and take a look at this full-blown cytoskeletal “storm,” which provides a spectacular dynamic view of the choreography of life.
Before a cell divides, it undergoes a process called mitosis that copies its chromosomes and produces two identical nuclei. As part of this process, microtubules, which are structural proteins that help make up the cell’s cytoskeleton, reorganize the newly copied chromosomes into a dense, football-shaped spindle. The position of this mitotic spindle tells the cell where to divide, allowing each daughter cell to contain its own identical set of DNA.
To gain a more detailed view of microtubules in action, researchers designed an experimental system that utilizes an extract of cells from the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis). Read more…
Caption: Still from a movie of mitosis by Abdullah Bashar Sami, Jesse Gatlin lab.