For Fred Hutch researchers, art and science frequently intersect.
Discover the striking images our scientists have captured. These images exceed their role as a medium for communicating information and contain the artistic qualities that transform them into objects of beauty and art.
Cell wounding is a common event in the life of many cell types, and the capacity of a cell to repair day-to-day wear-and-tear injuries, as well as traumatic ones, is fundamental for maintaining tissue integrity. Actin filaments, structural components of the cell, are rapidly recruited to wounds to provide a scaffold for this repair. The faster the actin moves toward the wound (center) the more yellow it appears.
Fred Hutch scientists are developing new computer algorithms to precisely design biomolecules called proteins from scratch, with many potential therapeutic and diagnostic applications. The challenge is to determine the three-dimensional structures of these designed proteins, which are far too small to see under a microscope. One solution is to coax these designer molecules into forming crystals like the one shown here whose structures can then be probed by powerful X-ray beams.
A cell’s shape, structure and movement are controlled by its cytoskeleton — a scaffold made of actin filaments (green) and microtubules (red). This image provided the first evidence of a protein (yellow) that can link the two components to coordinate their roles. Understanding the cytoskeleton sheds light on how cancer grows and spreads throughout the body.
These human epithelial cells were altered to target mitochondria (energy-generating structures in the cell), with a red fluorescent protein. The cells are also stained to show mitochondria in green and the nucleus, home of the cell’s DNA, in blue. Note that coincidence between green and red creates yellow.
This section of the cerebral cortex of a developing mouse brain shows cells (blue) migrating outward from a tube-shaped structure (bottom right) into the structure shown. Some cells (green) have migrated normally to their place under the outer surface; others express a gene that stalls their movement (red).
Patient-derived glioblastoma cells (labeled in green) co-mingle and interact with stromal astrocytes (labeled in red) within the brains of rodent hosts.
In this image of a breast tumor, blue highlights the tumor cells’ nuclei, which contain their DNA. Cancer stem cells scattered through the tumor glow green.
This is a microscopic image of a single dividing human brain tumor cell derived from a patient with glioblastoma, or brain cancer. In red, we can observe the highly organized mitotic spindle, which helps provide pulling force required to properly segregate DNA chromosomes during cell division. The red lines emanating from two spindle poles are called tubulins, which act as guides for the transport of whole chromosomes. The multicolor, punctate spots in the middle of the spindle are kinetochores that promote physical attachments between the chromosomes and the mitotic spindle. The Paddison Lab has found that kinetochore regulation is altered in brain tumors. As a result, their work has suggested new therapeutic strategies for brain tumors and likely many other types of cancer.
The Vagus motor neurons at the base of the brain innervate our larynx and pharynx for speech and swallowing, as well as our internal organs to control heartbeat, breathing, and digestion. This image shows the Vagus motor neurons in a transgenic zebrafish, which express a green-to-red photoconvertible fluorescent protein, Kaede (green). The Kaede in a subset of the neurons has been photo-converted using UV light (magenta). The Moens lab uses these genetic tools to discover whether motor neurons in the brain are organized in a spatial representation of their peripheral targets, and how this map forms during embryo development.
Cross-section of a zebrafish hindbrain showing motor neurons that innervate the jaw muscles (green), commissural interneurons (blue) and the basement membrane of the neural tube (red). The Moens lab discovered that the basement membrane serves to constrain and guide the migration of motor neurons during brain development.
A zebrafish embryo at 14 hours of development. The forming eye is visible at 12:00 and developing musculature is visible as a series of segmental blocks, the somites, between 5:00 and 8:00. This embryo expresses GFP (green fluorescent protein) in the forming gut, or endoderm. The Moens Lab uses this transgene at a later developmental stage to study how cell polarity in the central nervous system is established.
Part of the spinal cord of a zebrafish embryos at 5 days of development. Axons of brainstem neurons that course along either side of the spinal cord (parallel red tracks) make periodic contacts with crossing axons (thin red lines criss-crossing the tracks) and when they do they form a synapse (yellow spots). The Moens lab uses this easily visualized synapse to discover how genes function to build neuronal circuits that govern behavior.
Female reproductive track tissues from a mouse with ovarian cancer. This is a mouse ovarian tumor (thick red region) growing on a mouse ovary magnified at 10x.
Female reproductive track tissues from a mouse with ovarian cancer. This is a mouse uterine horn tumor (thick red region) growing on a mouse ovary magnified at 20x.
Mouse ovarian cancer expression of proteins being targeted by immunotherapy strategies at Fred Hutch.
Yeast cells that are engineered to engage in cooperation and cheating reveal self-organization in favor of cooperators in microbial communities. Fluorescently labeled red and green cells cooperate by providing necessary nutritional benefits to each other. Blue cells cheat by consuming the benefits produced by green cells without reciprocating.
Building tissue and forming organs requires cells to move and change their shape. To do so, they rely on long, stiff strings of molecules known as the cytoskeleton. These molecules push cells’ edges outward, providing form and, when focused in just the right spot, forward momentum. Tumor cells can hijack these same molecules, using them to grow abnormally, invade neighboring tissues and spread throughout the body. Dr. Susan Parkhurst’s team studies the proteins that control the size and placement of the internal “skeleton” of cells. This image shows a close-up view of several cells, with their cytoskeletons highlighted in bright green. The cells’ nuclei, which house their DNA, are blue.
Cancer results from changes to the genetic blueprint in our cells. We are born with some of these changes while others accumulate over the course of our lives. Dr. Susan Parkhurst lab investigates ways to treat individuals born with genetic changes known to contribute to cancer development. One method involves inducing a second genetic change that, added to the first, will return the cell to a “normal” condition. This image shows the nucleus (blue) of a normal cell (top). The pink highlights a protein found within the nucleus. Scientists removed a cancer-related gene called myc from the cell on the left, which caused the protein to be under-produced. They removed a different gene from the cell on the right, which caused the protein to be over-produced. However, when both genes are removed, the cell produces the normal amount of the protein (bottom).
In this image of the cerebellum from a normal mouse brain, small cells called granule neurons are shown in blue, and intricately branched neurons called Purkinje (purr-KIN-jee) cells are shown in green.
The rainbow colors in these mouse nerve cells show the activity of a protein called Rac1. Red indicates high activity, while yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet indicate ever-decreasing activity. Note the high activity of Rac1 in the nucleus and in long thin processes extending from the ends of the growing nerve cell branches.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 and E7 proteins cause abnormal cell divisions as shown here. This is an image of a binucleated cell expressing HPV 5 E6. Green= actin, which outlines the cell; blue=dapi, which stains the two nuclei and red=p53.
This photo depicts immunofluorescence staining of a whole mouse spleen. Listeria monocytogenes (green) is a bacteria that grows inside of cells and can be used as a model to understand how T cells, part of the adaptive immune system, respond to infection. In red are T cells that specifically recognize and kill Listeria-infected cells. Clustering around infected cells is a finely orchestrated mechanism to clear the infection and reduce collateral damage. This infection occurs primarily in the white pulp of the spleen (where T and B cells are found), which is surrounded by macrophages (blue). The left image includes a stain for the cell nucleus, which is removed in the right image to improve visibility of our cells of interest.
Taking inspiration from nature, we are using small drug-like proteins to tackle diseases that have so far evaded conventional treatments. We can even use computer-assisted design to model target binding and predict changes we can make to improve the drug.
A central macrophage coordinates the maturation of a series of immature red blood cells. The final maturation step involves the extrusion of their smooth round nucleus. Two extruded nuclei are seen on the left.