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SciShots: A tree-like mouse lung

Scientists are learning the bartering system of two cell types to understand the lifecycle of a lung


1 min read

Image of mouse lungs

An embryonic lung transforms into a tree-like structure through a developmental process known as branching morphogenesis. How these delicate, complex structures form in a growing animal is still not well understood. Boston University postdoctoral fellow Ian Kinstlinger, Ph.D., captured the continuous growth of lungs taken from a developing mouse, taking microscope images every three hours to show lung growth over the course of several days. In these images, specialized epithelial cells on the lung’s surface express a green fluorescent protein. Between the branches, black spaces are filled with soft mesenchyme cells, not visible in these images. These cells send signals to epithelial cells, promoting their growth and migration. In response, the surface epithelial cells release their own molecules, creating a back-and-forth signaling system that guides the lung structure’s development. Allen Distinguished Investigators Darrell Kotton, Ph.D., Wilson Wong, Ph.D., and their teams at Boston University aim to explore this process to gain insights into lung development and develop strategies to improve lung health. – Haylee Jarrett

Microscopic viewpoints, computer-generated models, intricate tracings and more — see a new side of science with SciShots.

About the author: Haylee Jarrett

Haylee Jarrett was the 2023 Editorial Intern in the Communications department at the Allen Institute. With a unique perspective and love of learning, Haylee uses writing to understand the world through the science that makes it so special. She is a staff writer for The Seattle Collegian, freelancer at The Ticket, and a student at Seattle Central Community College where she is studying Global Health and Medical Anthropology. Get in touch at

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