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It Takes Nerve to Flex Your Muscles

Through the PSC biomedical program, researchers are expanding sophisticated software called MCell that simulates chemical reactions and diffusion of molecules within, around and between cells. This MCell visualization depicts the junction, called a synapse, between a nerve-cell membrane (white mesh) and a muscle-cell (folded surface). Neurotransmitter molecules released from sacs (magenta and white) diffuse through this space and activate receptor proteins in the muscle to trigger movement. The arrow indicates the direction of the magnified view of receptors in the muscle.

With an NSF Information Technology Research grant, researchers at PSC and The Salk Institute are collaborating with computer scientists at the University of Tennessee and the University of California at San Diego to extend MCell's capabilities.