Cell Biology

A Kaleidoscope of Cell Shapes

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 747
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5646.747c

Animal cells adopt a variety of shapes—small and rounded, flat and polygonal, and even spindle-like. These characteristic morphologies are generated and maintained by the intracellular cytoskeleton and by the cell's interactions with the extracellular matrix and with neighboring cells. Kiger et al. have classified the morphological effects of interfering with a whole variety of proteins. They set up an automated screen that systematically targeted genes involved in cell ultrastructure and in processes that depend on changes in structure. Using RNA interference technology and two distinct Drosophila cell lines, they identified many genes that influenced cell shape, cell division, and cell-cell interactions; some were known components that regulate the cytoskeleton, but many had not been characterized previously. This type of mapping will be important in helping to define the pathways and the genetic and protein interactions responsible for cell structure and function. — SMH

J. Biol. 2, 27 (2003).

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