Motion in the Ocean: Using Sea Urchins to Understand Cell Migration

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Genevieve Abbruzzese, Richard Hynes

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Genevieve Abbruzzese, Richard Hynes
Koch Institute at MIT

Cancer cells exhibit many similarities to embryonic cells, including the ability to travel to distant and precise locations. As cells move, tracks of fibrous proteins facilitate their migration.

The Hynes Lab uses sea urchins to study these processes—and proteins—in three dimensions. Peering inside transparent embryos, researchers observe glassy, newly-formed matrices of fibers around dark skeletons. Determining how cells use this matrix to guide their path through the embryo may provide valuable clues for understanding the mechanisms that promote cell migration during both development and cancer metastasis. 

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Genevieve Abbruzzese shares the story behind her image at the exhibit opening ceremony on March 20, 2019.