Seeing proteins in their natural environment and interactions inside cells has been a long-standing goal. Using an advanced microscopy technique called cryo-electron tomography, researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] have visualised proteins responsible for cell-cell contacts for the first time. In this week’s issue of Nature they publish the first 3D image of human skin at molecular resolution and reveal the molecular Velcro-like organisation that interlinks cells.
Caption: 3-D visualization of interacting cadherin molecules in their native arrangement. Known molecular structures of cadherins (grey and red ribbons) are fit into the electron tomogram (multicolour) of the complex.
Credit: Achilleas Frangakis, EMBL