After some thinking, I decided to have a larger central panel depicting the inside of a cell and lots of small individual panels, which would create the frame.
Individual panel, which will explain how proteins play many roles in our bodies, are targeted by drugs and associated with disease were researched, descriptions written and sketches drawn.
Here is the preliminary list:
Chromosomes are the carriers of our genomic information. They are localised in an enclosed compartment in the cell, the nucleus. Chromosomes are only visible with the microscope when a cell is in the process of dividing itself into two cells. Each cell in our body contains 23 pairs of different chromosomes. One of these pairs defines our gender. Chromosomes are a complex 3-dimensional structure build of proteins, called histones, and DNA, which encodes our genomic information.
This panel has already been completed by Halina Bainbridge and is shown here.
Our genomic information determines individual characteristics and is encoded by a molecule called DNA, which stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is composed of two strands wrapped around each other in a helix. Each strand is built by a backbone formed of alternating sugar molecules and phosphate groups. This backbone is the anchor for our genetic information with is encoded by a sequence of 4 different molecules – adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), or thymine (T). Over these 4 molecules the 2 DNA strands bind to each other in a way that A pairs with T and C with G. Our genome contains over 3 billion of these pairs. But only 2% of these pairs encode actual genes, about 98% is so-called non-coding DNA.
This panel has already been started by Chris Harris at a workshop and is shown here.
3) Gene expression
The genetic code is copied or transcribed into messenger RNA in the cell nucleus.
Messenger RNA leaves the nucleus and travels to ribosomes in the cytoplasm where the coded information is translated into specific amino acid sequences in a protein. We have many different proteins, all of which have specific functions.
These panels has been started by Dr Mark Coldwell and Paula at a workshop and are shown here.
4) Amino acids, peptides and protein
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. When two or more amino acids are joined together, they form a peptide. Proteins are made up of peptide chains folded or twisted in characteristic shapes.
Many different proteins are found in the cells of living organisms, but they are made up of the same 20 amino acids, joined together in varying combinations. Eight of these, the essential amino acids, cannot be synthesised by humans and must be obtained from the diet.
This panel has already been completed by Barbara at a workshop and is shown here.
Ribosomes are biological structures in the cells consisting of 2 subunits and made up of RNA and proteins. It reads incoming messenger RNA transcripts and translates them into polypeptides and proteins by linking amino acids together in the order specified by messenger RNA.
This panel has been started by Mary Beton at a workshop and is shown here.
6) The immune system
The immune system is a system of biological structures that protects us against disease. It has to distinguish between its own healthy cells and a wide variety of harmful substances (round circles) ranging from viruses and bacteria to parasites. On the molecular level, the immune system works through the interaction of many proteins with specialised functions that are produced or carried by cells in our body. For example, white blood cells (blue) identify and eliminate harmful substances via antibodies (yellow and orange).
This panel has already been completed by Halina Bainbridge and is shown here.
7) Viral invasion
Viruses are small infectious substances that replicate only inside a living cell of another organism. There are many different types of viruses and they can invade many different forms of life, from animals and plants to bacteria. Viruses have their own DNA or RNA genome and are too small to be seen by an optical microscope.
This panel has already been completed by Galina Veres at a workshop and is shown here.
Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins produced by specialised cells in response to foreign substances (antigens) such as a virus or bacteria. They are found in our blood and bind to an antigen and allow them to be eliminated by the immune system. Antibodies vary slightly, which allows the immune system to recognise a wide variety of antigens.
MHC is a complex protein on the surface of cells that presents peptides from the inside of the cell to the immune system. If it displays normal peptides, the immune system does not respond. However, if it displays a peptide from a viral protein from a virus that has entered a cell, the immune system responds by killing the cell.
The background canvas
The sketch has been drawn by Mary Beton. We would like the MHC proteins to be embroidered on white canvas, which then will be appliquéd to the blue canvas.
ERAP1 and ERAP2 are two enzymes – proteins that perform a reaction catalysed by a zinc metal ion – which are responsible for preparing the antigenic peptides for loading onto the MHC. In particular, ERAPs “trim” the head of peptides that are longer than a specific size (10 amino-acids) so that they fit the MHC binding groove.
This panel has already been started by Lucy Marder, Galina Veres, Martine Bernandes ad Emma Harris at a workshop and are shown here.
The sketch has been drawn by Mary Beton. We would like the ERAP proteins to be cut out and appliquéd to the grey canvas. We would like the peptides to be created using different coloured beads.
Myosin is a molecular motor protein that uses chemical energy to perform movement. Myosin binds a molecule of ATP, the molecule used to transfer energy in cells, and breaks it down. The energy released is used to generate a “power stroke”, which causes muscle to contract.
12) Insulin & Diabetes
Insulin is a protein hormone regulating the levels of glucose in the blood. It is composed of 51 amino acids. It has two parts, which are linked together by tight bonds and folds into a 3 dimensional shape. Diabetes results when either not enough insulin is produced in the body or when the cells do not respond to the insulin.
This panel has already been completed by Halina Bainbridge and is shown here. To integrate it into the canvas, it might be slightly amended.
13) Opsins and Colour Blindness
Human eyes detect three different colours: red, green and blue, which are light of different wavelengths. These are detected by proteins called opsins, which form a tube like structure in the cells of the retina. There are three opsins for colour vision, each of which detects one of the different light wavelengths. However, in some people with a condition called “colour blindness” the tube structure for one colour is either missing or slightly different so they cannot see that colour correctly.
This panel has already been started by Barbara and is shown here.
White squares are to be collaged and a simple design has been sketched to be stitched on top.
Mitochondria are the “batteries” that exist in cells to provide energy for cellular reactions by converting sugars into a molecule called ATP. They have a characteristic structure with an outer and inner membrane. The inner membrane is folded many times creating an area that allows as much space as possible for the chemical reactions that are needed in the process of ATP synthesis.
This panel has already been completed by Jo Cowan and is shown here.
15) Cell junctions
The outer cell layer facing the environment, called the epithelium, is specialised to form a strong barrier. Cells are tightly connected to each other by a network of proteins forming a structure similar to a fence. This prevents the passage of harmful substances and pathogens into the body. Several diseases are linked to a breakdown of this fence function of the epithelium, like asthma and COPD.
This panel has already been started by Cornelia Blume and is shown here.
At the Science and Engineering Festival on the 18th of March 2017, the detail will be stitched into the individual panels by scientists and visitors to the festival.
The process of each panel will be captured by photography.