This image shows the cell membrane – which separates, and thus protects, the interior of a cell from the outside environment – of a neutrophil cell. Neutrophil cells are the most abundant type of white blood cell in most mammals, including humans. About a thousand million of these cells are produced every day in our body. As such, they form an important part of our immune system.
Alba Diz-Muñoz is studying images like this to learn more about the curvature of the cell membrane. The generation of membrane curvature is essential for cellular processes such as cell division, endocytosis – a process by which substances are brought into the cell – and exocytosis – by which substances are brought out of a cell.
The image shown here is a 3D-rendering. Julian Hennies from the Schwab team at EMBL Heidelberg used a neutrophil cell, which was imaged by focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy, using a machine-learning-based approach to automatically segment the outer cell membrane. Paolo Ronchi acquired the original dataset from the microscope.
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It’s almost a year since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, affecting all our lives. While the virus continues its grip on the world, scientists are understanding it better and better, increasing our knowledge about it and opening up new ways to fight it.