Crossing Over: Cells Move Through an Epithelial Bridge

This image, captured by Brett Zani of the Edelman Laboratory, shows a newly discovered structure called an epithelial bridge spanning two clusters of epithelial cells grown in culture.

Brett Zani
Edelman Lab, Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and MIT Koch Institute
Epi-Fluorescence Micrograph

The long, thin structure shown here was discovered entirely by accident.  Researchers were conducting tissue engineering experiments when they began noticing “bridges” like this one connecting populations of epithelial cells in culture.  The physiological significance of these bridges remains unknown, but in the Petri dish they seem to enable a new form of cell migration.

Brett Zani explains how and why he captured this image of an epithelial bridge.