Duke University biology professor Ustun Serdar Tulu won this year’s Cell Dance contest with a film that captured a dorsal closure of Drosophila embryo. The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB), which sponsors the annual cell biology film and image competition, awarded Tulu the $500 grand prize in the film category on Dec. 11 at its annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA.
To create his winning “Cellular Recognition” video, Tulu used confocal microscopy and red and green fluorescent proteins to illuminate the cellular junctions during dorsal closing. The fluorescent proteins labeled the activity of actin proteins, which are involved in many cellular processes including the formation of cell junctions. After taking multiple recordings that mapped different protein expression patterns, Tulu combined the videos.
In the dorsal closing process in Drosophila, two epithelial tissue cells on opposite sides of the opening recognize each other at single-cell resolution and join together to close the gap. Each cell has a specific counterpart on the other side of the opening. The dorsal sealing process takes two to three hours, but the video consolidates it into ten seconds.
At Duke, Tulu uses the dorsal closure of a fruit fly as a model to study cellular recognition. His research focuses on improving the understanding of how cells carry out such complex processes with such precision. A major part of this research is understanding how the cells communicate.
Tulu hopes his work will be applied to pathologies like cancer cells, which use cellular recognition when they metastasize. A better understanding of this recognition and bind could lead to new treatment options.
“I submitted another video last year and my boss asked why I didn’t submit this one,” said Tulu. “This year I submitted this one and it turns out he was right.” Last year, Tulu received an honorable mention for his “Zipping Movie” video, a different visualization of the dorsal closure in a Drosophila embryo.
Some of the other winners in the image and video categories can be found below:
1st Place: U. Serdar Tulu, Ph.D., of Duke University, for “Cellular Recognition,” showing the dynamics of the slender cytoplasmic projections, filopodia, during the development of a fruit fly (Drosphila melanogaster) embryo.
2nd Place (Tie): 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 fps with differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy.
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).
Public Outreach: Leonard Bosgraaf, Ph.D., Molecular Shots, Inc, of Groningen, The Netherlands, for “Firing Neurons ,” a movie created entirely by computer animation.
1st Place: 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.
2nd Place: Graham Johnson, graduate student at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, for “Promiscuous membrane drug transporters,” which illustrates multi-drug resistance (MDR) transporters.