Video: A Spectacular July 4th Firework Display ... in Frog Cells

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Posted by Dr. Francis Collins, from the NIH Director's Blog ... a little microscopic July 4th celebration, with the help of a frog's egg and some added fireworks sounds.

The video was made using a specialized microscope with a time-lapse camera, which captured proteins tagged with fluorescence in the midst of a critical step in the process of cell division. Here, you can see filaments called microtubules (red) form new branches (green) and fan out. This is the process by which chromosomes replicate and get pulled in two directions to form two cells from one.

Sabine Petry at Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, is leading the team doing this experiment. They are studying the dynamics of microtubules in an extract of cell fluid taken from the egg of an African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis).

Collins continues ...

Petry’s ultimate goal is to learn how to build mitotic spindles, molecule by molecule, in the lab. Such an achievement would mark a major step forward in understanding the complicated mechanics of cell division, which, when disrupted, can cause cancer and many other health problems.

The video was originally shown at the 2017 Art of Science exhibition at Princeton.