A couple weeks ago at work, an issue of the science journal Cell caught my eye.
Cell, Vol. 152, Issue 5
The artwork is by illustrator Yuki Takahashi, based on a design by Kentaro Hirose (who I think is a circadian biologist based on what I gleaned from his Twitter).
The cover was a lot more vibrant than I’m used to. At first, it looks like there are two girls in kimono pushing the hand of a clock. Upon closer inspection, their hair accessories are actually cartoon representations of proteins, FBXL3 and FBXL21, that regulate cryptochrome proteins CRY 1 and 2. These are involved in regulating circadian rhythms. Like a clip with hair extensions at the end, FBXL3 and FBXL21 alter CRY1 and 2 by adding a chain of ubiquitin molecules, symbolized by the UB, to signal either the degradation of CRY1 and 2 (thus speeding up the organism’s internal clock) or the stabilization of the proteins (thus slowing down the clock). It’s this back and forth that maintains an organism’s circadian rhythm.
One of the cover stories comes from Arisa Hirano from the University of Tokyo. Her journal article, “FBXL21 Regulates Oscillation of the Circadian Clock through Ubiquitination and Stabilization of Cryptochromes”, talks about what I described in the previous paragraph. Although it focuses on FBXL21, the article does mention that the protein opposes the action of FBXL3.
The other article hails from my workplace, UT Southwestern Medical Center. The author, Seung-Hee Yoo, actually belongs in my department, Neuroscience, which is headed by one of the paper’s contributors, Joe Takahashi. “Competing E3 Ubiquitin Ligases Govern Circadian Periodicity by Degradation of CRY in Nucleus and Cytoplasm” also studies FBXL21’s role in regulating the circadian clock in mammals, focusing on the process of ubiquitination.
In short, the Cell cover was a very well thought-out illustration. There’s a lot of cool science out there, and it’s cool that art can help bring attention to some of those discoveries.
Listening to: “BurningBlaze” by Mary’s Blood