Sherwood Lab Publishes on Basement Membranes
With such a prosaic name, you’d think basement membranes were no big deal-a stable substrate for cellular activity. But the Sherwood lab has come out with an important paper demonstrating their significance as active players in the dance of life (“Comprehensive Endogenous Tagging of Basement Membrane Components Reveals Dynamic Movement within the Matrix Scaffolding.” Dev Cell. 2020; 54(1):60-74). Basement membranes are common to many forms of life, from the most primitive to our human selves. They line many forms of tissue in the body and perform essential tasks, such as filtering blood in the kidneys and holding cells together. They are composed of a scaffolding made from laminin and collagen threaded through with different proteins.
The Sherwood Lab researchers attached fluorescent green tags to 29 different components of the basement membrane in living nematodes, tiny transparent worms. This allowed them to observe matrix proteins moving through the scaffolding and even to make movies using time-lapse photography. They also created a computer-generated reconstruction showing protein molecules moving inside the scaffolding. You can see these moving pictures of early life in Duke Today.