Cell games: Secrets of the interstitium

From Tom Myers: In this first clip from PromoCell, you can watch two cells communicating, as we know all cells do – but what a show! I love seeing into cells like this. As you watch the clip: The membrane of the cells is quite a clear line, but as you can see, the ‘zone of influence’ of the cell extends far beyond the strict membrane, crossed not only by Candace Pert’s ’molecules of emotion’ – neuropeptides and their ligands – but also by the integrins and other transmembranous mechanotransductors. In addition, you can see the fans and whips of the filopodia, all driven by kinetomeres, a transmembranous engine like cilia, driving these chemical exchanges down a mucous-y-looking tube.

That’s because it is a mucous tube – what Neil Thiese describes as ‘pathways’ through the interstitium. Here, however (and what was so enlightening to me about what this film shows), we can clearly see the mucous surrounding each cell – the so-called glycocalyx – open up pathways just between these two cells – for chemical, ionic, and ‘gene gossip’ (RNA fragments).

Then this second film is amazing, but I need to digest it more. We see a day-long compression of a stem cell differentiating into a neuron, gradually stripping away the rounded shape and omnidirectionality of the stem cell to the stripped-down, attenuated, slim contour of the neuron. Notice all the connections to nearby cells, the communication down the incipient ‘axon’, and the centrality of the nucleus to the process. Really rich learning for me here.

From PromoCell: In this video we can see the differentiation of PromoCell umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells into neurons. Excitingly, to our knowledge this is one of the first high-resolution, long-term, live cell time-lapses showing this process. These cells were grown for 13 days in PromoCell complete mesenchymal stem cell neurogenic differentiation medium prior to capture of this film. Images were captured every 30 seconds over a 20-hour period using NanoLive’s 3D Cell Explorer.