The black fibers seen in this image are tubulin, a protein that makes up a large part of the cytoskeleton of all cells. The cytoskeleton provides structural support for the cell, and tubulin also performs specific functions such as the mitotic spindle. When a cell is ready to divide, tubulin fibers attach to each copy of the duplicated, condensed chromosomes. In this way, the tubulin spindle can “count” the chromosomes to makes sure everything has duplicated properly. Once this checkpoint is passed, the spindle contracts and pulls the chromosomes to opposite poles of the dividing cell, ensuring that each daughter cell has one of each chromosome. This kaleidoscopic image was produced by stitching together many copies of an image of a Bovine Pulmonary Artery Epithelial cell which was stained to show the tubulin fibers, as well as the nucleus, which appears here in blue. The two nuclei in close proximity indicate that a cell has recently divided. Follow us on Instagram to see the original image! (SITN_Harvard)
Artwork generously provided by DWP.
To learn more about the cytoskeleton, click here.