Cells’ secret inner workings revealed through self-assembling ‘memory’ chains

Cells’ secret inner workings revealed through self-assembling ‘memory’ chains

Fluorescent protein chains produced by genetically altered mouse neurons. (Image credit: University of Michigan)

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Researchers have coaxed mouse brain cells to produce self-assembling protein chains that can record information, or “memories”, about the hidden processes taking place within the cells. Once fully formed, these biological black boxes can be easily read using a light microscope, potentially revolutionizing how scientists study cellular processes and the diseases that affect them.

Cells are hubs of constant activity, performing the crucial daily tasks that keep organisms alive. This activity is coordinated by specific “cellular events”, such as the expression of certain genes or the triggering of cellular pathways, a series of interactions between molecules in a cell that lead to a specific product or a change in a cell. But understanding exactly how these cellular events unfold can be challenging.

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