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SciShots: Gentle imaging for delicate cells

Examining fine cellular details for longer time periods


1 min read

Divide, thrive, repeat. The trillions of cells that make up our eyes, heart, bones, skin — our entire body — have all, at some point, divided from a stem cell through a process called mitosis. Scientists at the Allen Institute for Cell Science are studying this process, and other stages of the cell life cycle, in fine detail to better understand what makes our cells healthy and what goes wrong in disease. But examining cells using traditional microscopes, especially for long periods of time, can stress them out and often leads to cell death. With a new kind of instrument known as a lattice light sheet microscope, recently adopted by Allen Institute scientists, researchers can gently spy on the tiny delicate structures in cells as they move about and organize throughout the many hours of a human cell cycle. This abbreviated video, captured by ZEISS Microscopy, shows the nuclear envelope, the thin membrane that surrounds the cell’s nucleus, illuminated in human induced pluripotent stem cells from the Allen Cell Collection and imaged with a lattice light sheet microscope. For this experiment, the microscope imaged for over 10 hours — the time it takes for the human genome to duplicate. As cells divide, a process known as mitosis, the nuclear envelope disappears and reforms around the chromosomes of each new daughter cell. — Jenny Burns 

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

Science Programs at Allen Institute