At the beginning of December our latest research paper was accepted to the Journal of Biological Chemistry. In my research I use automated microscopy to image the movement or relative intensity of particular fluorescent signalling components in literally hundreds of single cells. This method is incredibly powerful and enables us to look at the variability between different cells in how they respond to a particular stimulus. We can monitor how they respond by looking at the activation of key signalling pathways, each of which can be considered to be a noisy communication channel. In this paper we used a statistical measure adapted from those used in the communications industry to measure signals passed down telephone lines, for example. This enabled us to see how cells use negative feedback loops to fine-tune the transmission of signals.
JBC invites authors of accepted manuscripts to submit an image for its cover. You might remember one I submitted alongside my second research paper, published in JBC in 2012. This one was also not chosen for the journal cover.
Here I have fragmented one of the heat-maps from the paper that we used to describe how signal transmission is influenced by the relative strengths of slow and fast negative feedback. This is laid over some of the images of the single cells used to test the predictions of mathematical modelling. The fragments of heat map can be considered to be snippets or packets of information.