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The Art in Science

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Kaylee Steen, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (Coulombe Laboratory), Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School

The skin is the largest and fastest growing organ of the body. It allows us to sense the world, protects us from injury, and is a major component of what visually diversifies species. Like all body systems, the cells that make up the skin carry out many complex functions and mutations or chronic stress can lead to debilitating and painful disorders. The image depicted here is a portion of a mouse skin that has been labeled to show the two sub-cellular organelles: nuclei (blue), which control how genes are expressed and mitochondria (green), often coined the "power-houses" of the cell because they produce energy for cellular processes. Together, these organelles dictate cellular responses to external signals and stress. We are trying to determine why and how disrupting the intricate network and dynamics of the mitochondria leads to this skin disease.