Cells are highly dynamic and can change remarkably quickly. Movies are a great way to capture this dynamics. Often they are not only beautiful, but reveal unexpected complexities about cellular processes, complexities that cannot be appreciated from snap shots. Below you can find movies from our own research on lipid droplets, as well as a non-comprehensive list of web movies from other research groups in cell and developmental biology.
Motion of lipid droplets – our own research
For background on the science, please follow the Research link in the menu on the left.
- Motion of lipid droplets in Drosophila embryos: A time-lapse movie (sped up ~160 fold) of fluorescently labeled lipid droplets, acquired by confocal microscopy. In this optical section, large numbers of droplets (yellow dots) can be seen moving incessantly throughout the embryo periphery.
- Motion of individual lipid droplets: A real-time movie, acquired by DIC (differential interference contrast) microscopy. The magnification is substantially higher than in the previous movie, and droplets can be distinguished as large white balls. Droplets move bidirectionally.
- How we quantify droplet motion: tracking droplets. For details on tracking the motion of organelles, please visit the website of our collaborator Dr. Steven Gross.
- Stopping droplet motion with optical tweezers. For details on how to use optical tweezers in vivo, please visit the website of our collaborator Dr. Steven Gross.
- Distribution of lipid droplets during embryogenesis. This animation shows the temporal changes in droplet distribution as the embryo develops. Droplets are not drawn to scale. The terms “Clearing” and “Clouding” are explained in the next entry.
- Distribution of lipid droplets during embryogenesis. Cytoplasm full of lipid droplets is opaque; and cytoplasm free of lipid droplets is transparent. This time-lapse movie (clock in movie displays hours:minutes:second) shows how the opacity of the embryo periphery changes as lipid droplets first move inward (“clearing”) and then back outward (“clouding”).
- Histone-GFP particles are lipid droplets. In the early Drosophila embryo, certain histones are present not only in nuclei (big circles), but also on lipid droplets. This time-lapse movie shows that the cytoplasmic Histone-GFP dots move like lipid droplets, one of a number of different lines of evidence that these dots are indeed lipid droplets. See our paper Cermelli et al. (2006) for a full discussion.
Intracellular transport and molecular motors
- The kinesin superfamily of microtubule motors is important for many cellular processes. The Kinesin home page has a selection of movies about kinesin function.
- How Kinesin-1 moves along microtubules is well understood. Click here for an animation of how kinesin is thought to walk. For more information, consult the corresponding background page
- The actin-based motor Myosin II works very differently. Click here for an animation of how Myosin II is thought to function. For more information, consult the corresponding background page.
- Single molecule experiments can reveal how individual kinesin-1 proteins work. For examples, see the movies by the Gelles laboratory.
- The beautiful animation “The inner life of cells” presents models for a wide range of cellular processes. A particular stunning sequence shows how kinesin drags a vesicle along a microtubule. Be sure to turn up the volume when watching this movie!
Other cell biology movies
- Annotated video collection from the Journal of Cell Biology
- microtubule assembly and disassembly
- Cytokinesis movies from the Salmon lab
- Cell motility movies from Vic Small’s lab