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HighMag is a blog for great cell biological images. We post images that are visually striking, biologically interesting, and technically challenging.

Erin Campbell
258 posts

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  • August 19, 2014
  • 12:18 PM

August 19, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Think of life without tubes for a moment. Not only would our huge bodies cease to exist, but our homes’ plumbing would be a mess and my 5-year old’s marble run would be pretty boring. The formation of tubes during development is a fascinating topic. Today’s image is from a paper describing the role of endocytosis in seamless tube formation. The trachea of the fruit fly is a simple tubular system that functions as the respiratory system of the fly. The star-shaped tracheal terminal cel........ Read more »

  • August 14, 2014
  • 03:54 PM

August 14, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Astrocytes used to be the red-headed stepchild of the neurology world, but no more! Once considered to be just filler material, astrocytes are now known to function in the development and function of synapses, though the mechanisms are unclear. Today’s stunning image is from a paper showing how astrocytes can stabilize synapses, possibly serving as an important component of learning and memory. The synapses of neurons in the central nervous system are dynamic in response to learning and m........ Read more »

Bernardinelli, Y., Randall, J., Janett, E., Nikonenko, I., König, S., Jones, E., Flores, C., Murai, K., Bochet, C., Holtmaat, A.... (2014) Activity-Dependent Structural Plasticity of Perisynaptic Astrocytic Domains Promotes Excitatory Synapse Stability. Current Biology, 24(15), 1679-1688. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.06.025  

  • August 7, 2014
  • 09:32 AM

August 7, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

No matter how many brilliant discoveries are made by countless brilliant scientists, there will always be a lot of unknowns out there. These unknowns are what keep our mental wheels turning, our imaginations running, and our labs busy. Today’s image is from a paper that describes a newly-discovered process of vascular development called “canalogenesis.” Schlemm’s canal (SC) is a flattened tube that encircles the anterior portion of the eye and drains fluid from the area. Abnormal drainag........ Read more »

  • July 31, 2014
  • 08:01 AM

July 31, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Do you ever feel nostalgic for a specific paper? Maybe this paper inspired your own research, or maybe it was a paper you immediately knew would be game-changing. Maybe, like today’s TBT paper, it was a great paper about solidly executed research with a memorable giggle-inducing technique. Thanks to a nostalgic HighMag reader and friend, Omar Quintero, we are being re-introduced to gonad sandwiches. In mammals, sex determination refers to the changes during early development that lead ........ Read more »

Martineau, J., Nordqvist, K., Tilmann, C., Lovell-Badge, R., & Capel, B. (1997) Male-specific cell migration into the developing gonad. Current Biology, 7(12), 958-968. DOI: 10.1016/S0960-9822(06)00415-5  

  • July 24, 2014
  • 11:45 AM

July 24, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

How many times can you say the word “gonad” in a sentence without giggling? If the answer is one, then I congratulate you on turning thirteen. If the answer is many, then you must be a biologist. Biologists appreciate the value of a good gonad, and so should you. The gonad of the worm C. elegans serves as an important model in which to study tissue organization and development, as you’ll see in the paper that accompanies today’s image. At the end of cell division, cytokinesis typical........ Read more »

Amini, R., Goupil, E., Labella, S., Zetka, M., Maddox, A., Labbe, J., & Chartier, N. (2014) C. elegans Anillin proteins regulate intercellular bridge stability and germline syncytial organization. originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 206(1), 129-143. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201310117  

  • July 18, 2014
  • 01:55 PM

July 18, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Poor polar bodies typically go the way of that old container of Chinese take-out in your fridge and are eventually dumped. Thanks to a very clever study published in Cell, polar body transfer can prevent the transmission of inherited mitochondrial diseases. Waste not, want not. The meiotic divisions of an oocyte result in the production of an egg in the extrusion of two very small polar bodies. These polar bodies have the same genetic material as the egg but have only a small number of orga........ Read more »

  • July 10, 2014
  • 03:32 PM

July 10, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Do your thoughts and feelings have colors? Do you feel red with rage during traffic, or green with envy when your lady swoons over Ryan Gosling? A recent methods paper introduces a very cool technique that allows the visualization and measurement of voltage within an excited neuron. Biologists build tools that are ideally accurate, fast, and non-damaging to the cells and organisms on which they are used. In a recent paper in Nature Methods, Hochbaum and colleagues describe the improved techn........ Read more »

Hochbaum, D., Zhao, Y., Farhi, S., Klapoetke, N., Werley, C., Kapoor, V., Zou, P., Kralj, J., Maclaurin, D., Smedemark-Margulies, N.... (2014) All-optical electrophysiology in mammalian neurons using engineered microbial rhodopsins. Nature Methods. DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.3000  

  • June 30, 2014
  • 07:11 AM

June 30, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Which came first, the primordial germ cell or the gamete? Unlike the old chicken or egg philosophical dilemma, we know for certain that the primordial germ cell came first. And, thanks to a recent paper about primordial germ cells in sea urchins, we now know that they can migrate across the urchin embryo. During development, germ cells produce gametes (eggs or sperm). In many organisms, including mammals, primordial germ cells (PGCs) are born far from the eventual location of gametes and must........ Read more »

Campanale, J., Gökirmak, T., Espinoza, J., Oulhen, N., Wessel, G., & Hamdoun, A. (2014) Migration of sea urchin primordial germ cells. Developmental Dynamics, 243(7), 917-927. DOI: 10.1002/dvdy.24133  

  • June 19, 2014
  • 11:46 AM

June 19, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

As the widespread therapeutic use of stem cells moves closer to reality, I just fasten my seatbelt a little tighter. An exciting time for stem cells and their scientist stalkers, a recent paper shows the regeneration of damaged monkey hearts by human embryonic stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes.  Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be programmed to differentiate into countless different cell types. hESCs are already being tested in humans to treat retinal diseases and spinal cord inju........ Read more »

Chong, J., Yang, X., Don, C., Minami, E., Liu, Y., Weyers, J., Mahoney, W., Van Biber, B., Cook, S., Palpant, N.... (2014) Human embryonic-stem-cell-derived cardiomyocytes regenerate non-human primate hearts. Nature, 510(7504), 273-277. DOI: 10.1038/nature13233  

  • June 10, 2014
  • 10:51 AM

June 10, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

The Life History of a Single Kinetochore Fiber sounds like a book a lot of us would enjoy (well, me at least). It isn’t really a book about a plucky kinetochore fiber who triumphs over a difficult childhood, but rather the focus of a fascinating recent paper. In this paper published in Molecular Biology of the Cell, LaFountain and Oldenbourg present results showing a model for kinetochore microtubule formation that occurs at kinetochores. Kinetochore fibers link chromosomes to the mitotic sp........ Read more »

  • April 30, 2014
  • 03:29 PM

April 30, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Have you ever driven in the wrong direction on a one-way street. It feels as wrong as a hamburger smoothie and you feel overwhelmed with panic. It’s important to go the right direction on one-way streets, and a neuron understands this. Neurons are polarized so that signals can come and go in the right direction. Today’s stunning image is from a paper describing the cytoskeletal architecture within a region of a neuron that’s important for polarity. The axon initial segment (AIS) i........ Read more »

  • April 24, 2014
  • 05:13 PM

April 24, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

I’m still waiting for my miniaturizing spaceship* so I can dive into a cell with my dog and ride in the lamella of a crawling cell. Until then, I will gladly enjoy images like today’s, from the Lippincott-Schwartz lab. A cell’s shape can change for many reasons, including crawling, tissue regeneration, and cancer progression. Cell shape is dynamic, relying on temporal and spatial coordination of several processes. The three-dimensional nature of cell shape, however, presents a challenge........ Read more »

Burnette, D., Shao, L., Ott, C., Pasapera, A., Fischer, R., Baird, M., Der Loughian, C., Delanoe-Ayari, H., Paszek, M., Davidson, M.... (2014) A contractile and counterbalancing adhesion system controls the 3D shape of crawling cells. originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 205(1), 83-96. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201311104  

  • April 17, 2014
  • 09:26 AM

April 17, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

The endoplasmic reticulum and humans have quite a bit in common. Both are dynamic and constantly changing, but both also need something to ground and stabilize them. Maybe I’m reading too much into the beauty of the ER, but the image today is from a paper that only fuels my fascination. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a large, complex membrane-bound organelle that spreads throughout the cell and hosts the synthesis, folding, and sorting of membrane and secretory proteins. This network is ........ Read more »

Joensuu, M., Belevich, I., Ramo, O., Nevzorov, I., Vihinen, H., Puhka, M., Witkos, T., Lowe, M., Vartiainen, M., & Jokitalo, E. (2014) ER sheet persistence is coupled to myosin 1c-regulated dynamic actin filament arrays. Molecular Biology of the Cell, 25(7), 1111-1126. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E13-12-0712  

  • April 10, 2014
  • 03:40 PM

April 10, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

When you host a party at your home, do you hire a caterer to bring in food or do you cook the food right there in your kitchen? One of these options leaves a lot more wiggle room for last-minute changes—a few extra guests, a gluten allergy, a pregnant lady with a disgust for wobbly deserts. A cell recognizes this distinction too. When making certain proteins, a cell will synthesize proteins where and when they’re needed. Today’s image is from Natasha Gutierrez, who recently published a........ Read more »

  • April 2, 2014
  • 02:59 PM

April 2, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Nuclear envelope breakdown is far prettier than my own breakdown when I realized that Girl Scout “cookie season” is over. Today’s image is from a paper that describes the importance of SUN proteins in nuclear envelope breakdown.Early in mitosis, a cell’s nuclear envelope breaks down to allow the attachment of chromosomes to the mitotic spindle. Nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD) depends on a tearing process, during which microtubules pull the nuclear envelope towards the centrosomes. T........ Read more »

Turgay, Y., Champion, L., Balazs, C., Held, M., Toso, A., Gerlich, D., Meraldi, P., & Kutay, U. (2014) SUN proteins facilitate the removal of membranes from chromatin during nuclear envelope breakdown. The Journal of Cell Biology, 204(7), 1099-1109. DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201310116  

  • March 27, 2014
  • 07:31 AM

March 27, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

You might think of your bones as unchanging, but they are far more dynamic than you think. Today’s image is from a paper identifying a new blood vessel subtype found in the mouse skeletal system.Osteogenesis is the formation of new bone tissue, and is important in bone renewal and fracture healing. Recent work suggests that osteogenesis may depend on the presence of blood vessels. A recent paper identified a new capillary subtype found in the mouse skeletal system. Kusumbe and colleagues f........ Read more »

  • March 19, 2014
  • 07:26 AM

March 19, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Migration fingers are the spirit fingers of a migrating epithelial sheet of cells. Woowoo!! Today’s image is from a cool paper on the forces exerted by a migration finger, so naturally I’m showing my enthusiasm with my own spirit fingers. Cells can migrate on their own or as part of an epithelial sheet of many cells. Collective migration features the forward movement of multicellular migration fingers, and can be seen throughout development, in spreading tumors and in healing wounds. The........ Read more »

Reffay, M., Parrini, M., Cochet-Escartin, O., Ladoux, B., Buguin, A., Coscoy, S., Amblard, F., Camonis, J., & Silberzan, P. (2014) Interplay of RhoA and mechanical forces in collective cell migration driven by leader cells. Nature Cell Biology, 16(3), 217-223. DOI: 10.1038/ncb2917  

  • March 12, 2014
  • 08:00 AM

March 12, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

I love a lot of things that are rings, especially donuts. Turns out, though, that ring chromosomes are terrible news. A recent paper shows the loss of ring chromosomes when cells are reprogrammed, suggesting possible ‘chromosome therapy’ through cell reprogramming. Ring chromosomes form when the two arms of a chromosome fuse, and are sometimes associated with large terminal deletions. These ring chromosomes lead to birth defects, mental disabilities, and growth retardation. Unfortunately........ Read more »

Bershteyn, M., Hayashi, Y., Desachy, G., Hsiao, E., Sami, S., Tsang, K., Weiss, L., Kriegstein, A., Yamanaka, S., & Wynshaw-Boris, A. (2014) Cell-autonomous correction of ring chromosomes in human induced pluripotent stem cells. Nature, 507(7490), 99-103. DOI: 10.1038/nature12923  

  • March 5, 2014
  • 07:00 AM

March 5, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Mitochondria are the cellular power plants, but bigger power plants are not always a good thing. Defects in the regulation of mitochondrial size and dynamics can cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Today’s image is from a paper describing an important player in mitochondrial division, or fission. Mitochondria serve as the cellular power plants due to their production of ATP, the cell’s energy source, and are quite dynamic, with fusion and fission events occurring ........ Read more »

Korobova, F., Gauvin, T., & Higgs, H. (2014) A Role for Myosin II in Mammalian Mitochondrial Fission. Current Biology, 24(4), 409-414. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.032  

  • February 26, 2014
  • 03:14 PM

Febrary 26, 2014

by Erin Campbell in HighMag Blog

Not all stem cells are created equally. Some are totipotent, meaning they can divide and differentiate into any cell type, while some are unipotent, meaning they can differentiate into one specific cell type. Understanding the potenty of various stem cells is an important step towards understanding how tissues are developed, remodeled, and maintained. Today’s beautiful images are from a study of stem cells in the mammary gland. Mammary glands go through a lot of changes during both puberty and........ Read more »

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