A Model of Nerve and Muscle

With powerful software called MCell, used in many research labs around the world through support from developers in PSC's biomedical group and at the Salk Institute, researchers can simulate the cascade of chemical reactions that occur as molecules diffuse within, around and between cells. (See Where Nerve and Muscle Meet.) This image represents a large-scale MCell reconstruction of a nerve terminal (gray) at the junction with the complexly folded membrane surface of a muscle cell (purple).

To build physiologically realistic models of the boundaries between cells and the space where they interact, MCell begins with scan data from electron micrography or tomography. From these datasets, the modeler traces membrane contours. By interpolating between contours of the physical sections, the model fills in 3-D geometry and adds color to define surfaces.



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