1,100 Words

Boundary Zone

This pink line of cells belongs to a fruit fly, marking the boundary between its small and large intestines. Duke cell biologist Don Fox and postdoc Jessica Sawyer are studying how cells in this zone protect the border between these two organs as the fly develops, and what happens when the border breaks down. Normally the pink boundary zone helps keep neighboring cells from dividing, but damage to the area results in tumor-like growths that invade across the organ boundary. Their work could also help researchers understand a condition of the human digestive tract called Barrett’s esophagus, which can turn into cancer.