Cellular Trash Bags

Cellular Trash Bags

Jaclyn Fingerhut

MIT Department of Biology, Whitehead Institute

Sperm are incredibly hydrodynamic. This is achieved, in part, due to their distinctive shape: sperm have a compact, pointed head and a long slim tail. In order to achieve their distinct shape, many cellular components that were important for development need to be removed. In Drosophila, cytoskeletal components (red in the image) facilitate this process by forming comb-like structures around the sperm head that then migrate down towards the tip of the sperm tail, combing away anything that’s not necessary for sperm function. These cellular components and the cytoskeletal combs end up in structures called waste bags (cyan in the image), which are then degraded. I took this image to better understand this combing process.

translucent balloon-like structures colored cyan enclose glowing red proteins in elongated clusters

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