Denise Montell of Biological Chemistry and
the Center for Cell Dynamics on her work in the movies:
Your lab studies cell migration in the developing fruit fly ovary. What kind of questions is real-time imaging letting you tackle that you couldn’t before?
MONTELL: In our case, we have identified dozens of genes and proteins that are involved in cell migration, but in fixed tissue samples the migration mutants all looked similar, so it has been challenging to pinpoint how each one affected movement. Did these cells fail to initiate movement? Were they too slow? Did they have difficulty detaching from their original location? With real-time imaging, we can now distinguish these subtleties and assign a specific function to each molecule.
Real-time technology has come a long way these past few years. Do limitations remain in what we can and can’t visualize?
MONTELL: We are always looking for greater temporal and spatial resolution. We’re developing techniques that go beyond the limitations of the traditional light microscope, such as following single molecules or focusing deep within thick tissue samples. As for following extremely fast processes, those on the millisecond timescale, we need to further improve the speed of image acquisition. Each video also contains a ton of information, and we need better computational tools to mine it properly and learn as much as possible.
What’s the take-home message of the IBBS Center for Cell Dynamics?
MONTELL: Right now it’s just emerging as a discipline. We have no journals on cell dynamics, or courses, or a department. We hope to help define the field of cell dynamics for both the University and the broader community. In the future, if outside researchers want to set up collaborations or find a faculty position for one of their star postdocs, Hopkins will be one of the first names they think of.
Denise Montell on using light to move cells:
- You Can't Keep A Good Cell Down
- Fly Cells Flock Together, Follow the Light
- Now Playing: Cell Migration Live!
- The Biological Art of Organ Sculpture
- Cell death protein has surprising role in cell migration
- Researchers Identify Genes In Fruit Flies That May Shed Light On Human Cancer Spread
- Discovering a controller of cell movement
- Seeing is believing
- All the (microscopic) world's a stage