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Sister Chromatid Act To Play Times Square

A metaphase epithelial cell stained for microtubules (red), kinetochores (green) and DNA (blue).<br />Image courtesy of Light Microscopy Imaging Center, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.
A metaphase epithelial cell stained for microtubules (red), kinetochores (green) and DNA (blue). Image courtesy of Light Microscopy Imaging Center, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN.

Cell biology has long prided itself on being the most visual of all the basic sciences yet each year some of its most basic concepts are described for students in vast clouds of words (and many PowerPoint slides). Oh, for that one picture (or short video) that says it all about one thing. This is that one picture of metaphase.

In fine detail and with almost three-dimensional clarity, it shows a stained mammalian epithelial cell with its sister pair of replicated and condensed chromosomes (blue) gripped tightly at (green) the kinetochores and held fast in the (red) arms of the spindle microtubules. In April, the image that says it all about metaphase will say it all from a giant video screen in Times Square as the winner of the GE Healthcare Life Sciences 2012 Cell Imaging Contest. The competition voting was conducted online last fall and in person at the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco and at a molecular biology meeting in Japan.

The "It" image of metaphase was captured at the Light Microscopy Imaging Center at Indiana University, Bloomington, by Jane Stout, a longtime research associate in the laboratory of ASCB member Claire Walczak, who runs the imaging center. The instrument was a $1.2 million OMX microscope purchased in 2010 through funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. When the instrument was first installed, it immediately earned the Imaging Center nickname of "OMG" for its resolution and its super-speed imaging of multiple-labeled proteins.

Stout and a guest will be flown to New York City next month to see their metaphase cell join the Great White Way in Times Square where on New Year’s Eve tens of thousands gather to watch a ball, representing the old year, slide down a pole. Perhaps it could be a cell nucleus next year.

Created on Thursday, March 7, 2013

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