Health & Histones
Histones are proteins that help package and regulate DNA strands by allowing them to compact and relax, usually in the preparation of cell division or gene expression. Environmental factors like cigarette smoke, air pollution and some chemicals can affect how histones function. For example, cigarette smoke causes a decrease of lysine acetylation in the lungs of a smoker. This may contribute to the development of lung cancer.
Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya 3D, Cinema 4D, and VMD
• RCSB Protein Data Bank
As I reflected on my journey to create my final product, I recalled my fascination with epigenetics and the impact of environmental factors on our health.
My initial draft aimed to be accessible to the general public by starting with basic concepts such as DNA, chromosomes, and chromatin. However, I found that the draft lacked clarity and focus. Despite this, I am proud of the revisions I made to improve the final product, which allowed me to gain a better understanding of the subject matter and the importance of clear scientific writing and visual communication.
For my hero image, I extracted the molecular information of a histone from the RCSB Protein Data Bank. Then, I utilized “3D Protein Imaging” online software to create a 2D depiction of it.
Subsequently, I constructed my 3D chromatin structure levels using C4D. At the time, I felt that these structures were purposeful to give the audience more background context. And I admit, I formed a sense of attachment to them because of the the time spent making them. In the end, I decided that they were unnecessary information, and needed to be removed.
In my second and final version, I opted for a complete overhaul of the writing, storytelling, and imagery to create a more dynamic product. To achieve this, I removed the section on DNA’s Packing Level entirely as I believed that the story needed to focus more on histones and their modifications. I was determined to make this information as accessible as possible, ensuring that even individuals with no prior background knowledge could understand the concept that condensed chromatin restricts gene expression, while relaxed chromatin promotes it. I also aimed to convey how environmental pollutants can change DNA function by influencing histones and altering the DNA structure. Overall, I am pleased with the reworked version of my product.
My initial step in approaching the molecular structure involved utilizing the .pbd file and Visual Molecular Dynamics software to visualize the histone molecule in three dimensions. Utilizing the software’s functionality, I selectively identified and modified the constituent chains (H2A, H2B, H3, H4, and DNA), adjusting their individual representation and coloration, and subsequently exporting them as .obj files. The imported .obj files were then integrated into Maya, where I generated a refined rendering of the histone molecule, subsequently serving as the focal image in my project.