Working with cells like working in an art gallery where the art changes every day

December 13, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-- Like exotic fish threading their way through a tropical reef, Golgi "ribbons" swim through the submicroscopic ocean inside a living cell. "Triskelion" (three-legged) clathrin proteins swarm like angry bees around a particle wanting to enter the cell membrane. Doubled chromosomes divide like a graceful corps de ballet fluttering towards the wings.

The rarely seen but eerily beautiful world inside our cells is made visible in the videos, animations, and photographs named as winners of "Celldance 2008," the annual cell film and image contest for members of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). The winning entries premiere this week at the ASCB Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

New to Celldance this year is a "still" image competition and a special "Public Outreach" video award category. Celldance winners receive cash and free registration at the ASCB's 48th Annual Meeting, Dec. 14 to 17. The public and the news media can see for themselves by downloading the winning entries through the ASCB's Image & Video Library at: http://tinyurl.com/6aj4zu. The 2008 Celldance "movie" poster which features "Harry Drosophila and the Deathly Knockout" can be seen at: http://www.ascb.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=258&Itemid=257.

Celldance recognizes images and videos that are both scientifically important and visually engaging, says Rex Chisholm who chairs the ASCB's Public Information Committee, which started "Celldance" in 2005. Chisholm hailed this year's winners: "Even if you haven't studied cell biology since high school, these short videos and microscope stills are fascinating."

Chisholm continued, "Most cell biologists I know are in large part motivated by the beauty they see in cells every day of their professional life. In one sense working with cells is like working in an art gallery where the art changes every day."

Rachid Sougrat, a scientist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at NIH in Bethesda, MD, won first place prize in the new Public Outreach video category, for "The Golgi Apparatus," a blend of live-action video microscopy and computer-generated animation complete with Golgi "ribbons" swimming serenely through the cell cytoskeleton.

Janet Iwasa of Harvard Medical School won the regular Celldance Video competition with "Clathrin-Mediated Endocytosis," a tour de force of scientific animation that begins with Iwasa introducing triskelion clathrin proteins. Suddenly, Iwasa's three-legged triskelions multiply and spin off to the tune of the "Flight of the Bumble Bee" into a self-assembling swarm, creating an endocytic vesicle for carrying outside substances into the cell.

Alexander Bird, a scientist at Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, took first place in the new "still" image competition which is run by the ASCB's Image and Video Library (IVL) Using green, blue, and purple fluorescent reagent stains, Bird tagged the microtubules separating the cell's 23 chromosome pairs as the cell passes through two critical stages of cell division called metaphase and anaphase.
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All the Celldance winners including honorable mentions and runners-up can be seen at the IVL site through this URL: http://tinyurl.com/6aj4zu.

News media who need assistance in acquiring the images and video for limited, non-commercial use should contact ASCB Science Writer John Fleischman, jfleischman@ascb.org or (513) 706-0212.

American Society for Cell Biology

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