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'Celldance' spotlights cell biologists' images and videos

The most visual of the life sciences, cell biology will show off its dazzling side at "Celldance 2010," the American Society for Cell Biology's annual film and image contest. The winning videos and images will be shown on Saturday, Dec. 11, at the ASCB's 50th annual meeting in Philadelphia.

A fruit fly embryo's sealing shut its new epidermis is revealed in "Cellular Recognition," the first-place video of U. Serdar Tulu, PhD, of Duke University. The first-place "Celldance" 2010 award includes $500.

For a still image, the first-place $500 award will be presented to Li He, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, for "Actomyosin and Focal Adhesion in Fly Egg Chamber," a confocal micrograph of the follicle cells of a fruit fly egg chamber stained in three colors that resemble a stained glass window.

Winner of the special video prize for "Public Outreach" will be Leonard Bosgraaf, Ph.D., of Molecular Shots, Inc., in The Netherlands, for "Firing Neurons," a movie created entirely by computer animation that takes the viewer inside neurons that are firing action potentials.

"Celldance" will recognize a total of 10 ASCB members (identified below) for their visually engaging and scientifically important videos and images, most of which were created during research on the cellular mechanisms that underlie human health and disease.

This year's "Celldance" will be one of the highlights of ASCB's 50th annual meeting. After WWI, cell biology grew into a scientific field as a result of breakthroughs in imaging technologies such as electron microscopy.

Today, cell biology has become even more revealing as a result of developments in fluorescent proteins, metallic nano tagging, and resolution of complex life processes on the molecular level, said Northwestern University scientist Rex Chisholm, Ph.D., who chairs the ASCB's Public Information Committee, which sponsors "Celldance."

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

The 2010 "Celldance" winning images and videos will be posted online at following the ASCB annual meeting.

Prior to public posting, journalists, editors, and news producers can obtain high-resolution still images and video clips of the 2010 "Celldance" winners by contacting: Cathy Yarbrough:, 858-243-1814; or John Fleischman:, 513-706-0212.

Winning "Celldance" 2010 awards:


U. Serdar Tulu, Ph.D., of Duke University, for his film, "Cellular Recognition," showing the dynamics of the slender cytoplasmic projections, filopodia, during the development of a fruit fly (Drosphila melanogaster) embryo. In a process known as dorsal closure, two epidermal cell sheets are shown coming together to form a seamless epidermis.


Li He, graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, for "Actomyosin and Focal Adhesion in Fly Egg Chamber," a confocal micrograph of the follicle cells of a fruit fly egg chamber stained in three colors to mark actin filaments: DAPI (blue) to detect nuclei, GFP-paxillin (green) to identify focal adhesions, and rhodamine phalloidin (red) to mark actin filaments. Paxillin was driven by a heat shock promoter, which gave rise to the mosaic mosaic pattern. Myosin II was driven by its endogenous promoter. At cellular level, the myosin fibers are enriched at the basal side of follicle epithelia cells. The focal adhesion sites labeled by paxillin anchor both ends of the myosin stress fibers onto the basal membrane and relay the force generated by myosin contraction to the extra-cellular matrix. Globally, basal myosin stress fibers organized perpendicular to the tissue anterior-posterior axis are especially strong at the middle band of the tissue. This global organized basal contracting machinery is responsible for the narrowing of the egg chamber width and thus the proper elongation of the tissue.


Leonard Bosgraaf, Ph.D., Molecular Shots, Inc, of Groningen, The Netherlands, for "Firing Neurons," a movie created entirely by computer animation. It shows neurons firing action potentials and the waves of these signals going through the axon and synapses. The scale is about 20 pixels per micrometer in the first part of the movie. At the end of the movie, the camera zooms in all the way to protein level (about three pixels per nanometer).

(Tie: 2 winners)

Karl Lechtreck, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, for "Motion of Epidymal Cilia," a high-speed video shot at the equivalent of 200 frames per second with differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy. In exquisite slow motion (shown at 10 frames per second), the video reveals ciliary bending inside sections of mice trachea.

Rosalind Silverman, Ph.D., University of Toronto, for "Fifty Stars⎯Fifty Years," showing cycles of division of Drosophila embryos injected with GFP NLS (pseudo-colored). Once the nuclear membranes disassemble, the fluorescent signal dissipates to reorganize in the next cell cycle when the membrane reforms.


Graham Johnson, graduate student at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, for "Promiscuous membrane drug transporters," which illustrates multi-drug resistance (MDR) transporters. MDRs exhibit poly-specific recognition, enabling numerous, chemically different compounds to pass through them. MDR transporters are studied to reveal a hypothesized mechanism-of-action and clues to how such a mechanism might be exploited as a "druggable" target.

(4 awards)

Mary David, Ph.D., Molecular Devices, Inc., Downingtown, PA, for "The Chase." In the early days of cell biology, shooting 16mm movie film through a microscope was cutting-edge technology. David Rogers' 1950s film was the first to image human polymorphonuclear leukocytes chasing bacteria. The camera framing could not capture the entire chase. David used digital processing to combine Rogers's bacterial chase into a single panorama.

Kira Henderson, graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, for "Cellular Wasteland," featuring live DIC images of human mesenchymal stem cells taken hourly for five days and displayed at five frames per second.

Jason Stumpff, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle for "Interphase Mitochondria Dynamics," showing transfected HeLa cells imaged at 37C by using a Deltavision system. The HeLa cells were transfected with plasmid DNA encoding mCherry-alpha-tubulin and GFP fused to the leader sequence of E1-alpha pyruvate dehydrogenase.

Torsten Woellert, graduate student at Syracuse University in NY, for "Migration of Human Oral Keratinocytes," showing human oral keratinocytes, OKF6/TERT-2 cells, grown in 35 mm glass bottom dishes to 30 percent confluence followed by co-culture with a Candida albicans mutant.

(2 awards)

2nd Place image winner, Graham Johnson of the Scripps Research Institute, for "Patronus," which represents the patronin protein's function metaphorically, and relatively recognizably, as the Harry Potter character, Patronus.

2nd Place video winner, Rosalind Silverman, University of Toronto, for "An Extended Actin Net." With actin in red and DNA in blue, an actin net is captured as it organizes nuclei in migratory smooth muscle cells from rat arteries. The actin net contributes to the rear polarization of the MTOC during migration of these cells.


Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
American Society for Cell Biology

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