In week two of the new Of Schemes and Memes blog series, which features weekly interviews with the art team at Nature, Art Director Kelly Krause explains the decisions behind this week’s front cover graphic.
To launch this new series of posts, we are looking for a super witty and smart title for the weekly blog (puns allowed/encouraged.) Nature Publishing Group is offering the prize of a personal subscription to Nature for the best series title from our readers. Share your best entries with the hashtag #naturecovers on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or in the comments by Wednesday 29th January 2014.
Abstract representation of the complex folds of the protein and RNA components of the large subunit of the mammalian mitochondrial ribosome, by Basil Greber after Keith Haring. The mitochondria that power eukaryotic cells via aerobic respiration originated from prokaryotes and contain a much-reduced genome that encodes a number of RNA molecules and a very limited subset of mitochondrial proteins. The mitochondrial ribosomes, or mitoribosomes, of mammalian cells are highly specialized for the translation of membrane proteins of the respiratory chain. Nenad Ban and colleagues have solved the three-dimensional structure of the large 39S mitoribosomal subunit by cryoelectron microscopy to 4.9 Å resolution. Their images provide detailed insights into the considerable changes that have occurred in this ribosome, presumably to help facilitate translation of the very hydrophobic proteins encoded by the mitochondrial genome. Cover: Basil Greber
From the Art Desk:
Art Director, Kelly Krause, explains:
“The authors of this paper have solved a complex 3D structure, as seen in the below image from their paper. The 3D models in their paper were gorgeous, and could have possibly been used on the cover, but I was attracted to Basil Greber’s more artistic interpretation of his research in this context, as covers in my view should embrace creative expression.”
“In discussing possible representations of our results, my colleague and co-author Marc Leibundgut suggested that I look into the work of Keith Haring. To create his symbolic language, Haring typically used lines of constant thickness, serving as outlines of objects and figures, or assuming an endless variety of shapes to fill all available space. Interestingly, biological molecules are linear chains that fold into complex and intricate shapes in three-dimensional space. In interpreting the structure of the large subunit of the mammalian mitochondrial ribosome, we are revealing how these constituent chains fold. The abstract rendering of the ribosomal subunit drawn in red lines takes the place of a human figure that appears in Keith Haring’s work of art that inspired this design.”
See last week’s cover uncovered here.
For additional behind the scenes commentary each week, check out Nature Graphics Tumblr.