Health

House Hunters

Liver cells are versatile workhorses, synthesizing key proteins while clearing toxins from the body. But these homebodies rarely survive outside the liver, making them challenging to study. Asli Unal, a graduate student in Jennifer West’s lab, is building synthetic homes for picky liver cells.

Nabbing an Iron Bandit

Some pathogenic bacteria -- including strains that cause diseases like tuberculosis and leprosy -- get their daily dose of iron by swiping the essential nutrient from their host. To enact the heist, these bacteria spit out molecules called siderophores, shown here in light orange, that grab iron, shuttle it back to the bacterial membrane, and dole out the precise amount to keep the bacteria strong and healthy.

Awakening a Sleeping Organ

The green ring of cells lining this fruit fly’s digestive tract normally lie dormant, but after injury they spring into action, growing and copying their DNA to help the fly’s gut heal. To repair damage, organs either make new cells to replace those that were lost, or enlarge the cells that remain.

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