The beauty of proteomics

It may be beautiful, but the April cover of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics is not just another pretty picture. The cover artwork, commissioned by MCP, is an oil painting by artist Julie Newdoll titled “The Worlds of Proteomics.” The painting is the first of a series in which the artist explores proteomics and stems from a collaboration with MCP co-editors Al Burlingame and Ralph Bradshaw. Newdoll worked with Burlingame and Bradshaw to learn about the many aspects of proteomics research and to understand the broad scope of science that MCP publishes. Their goal in initiating the series is to promote a deeper, richer appreciation for the field by those directly and indirectly involved with proteomics research.

Newdoll has a master’s degree in medical illustration and previously worked as a visualization specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. She found that fusing the powerful and beautiful concepts of science with cultural references both ancient and contemporary provided a new lens for creating her own view of the fascinating world of science. Other commissioned paintings by Newdoll can be found at her website.

The painting on the cover is accompanied by the artist’s description, which explains Newdoll’s inspiration for the piece:

“When proteins are made in the cell in response to some stimuli or event, they are targeted via an address system for a specific location or locations. In this painting, the various areas in a cell are represented by various worlds – there is the world of the sea in the cytosol, that of the air outside the cell and land or earth inside the nucleus. Inside the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum, little islands have their own color scheme. A protein meant to be secreted to the outside of the cell follows an elaborate path of production, first forming inside the endoplasmic reticulum, later packaged into a membrane bubble which melds with the Golgi, and finally repackaged and released to the outside of the cell.

“From the artist’s perspective, a protein meant for the outside of the cell is rendered as a flying creature in this painting. It never ends up in the deep sea environment of the cytosol, or it would ‘drown.’ Likewise, proteins destined for the deep sea of the cytosol could not breathe outside the cell in the open air. And then there are the amphibians …”

“The Worlds of Proteomics” represents the broadest perspective of proteomics research, and Newdoll intends to use it as the foundation of the series. “The first in the series displays all realms of proteomics, while future paintings will zoom in on the various worlds and microcosms mapped out here,” she explains. The co-editors intend to feature future pieces on the journal’s cover to highlight specific areas of research.

To celebrate the debut of the new cover artwork, MCP, normally an online-only publication, has printed 500 copies of the April issue as well as a poster of the painting for distribution at the ASBMB annual meeting on April 9 – 13 and to members of its editorial board.

Angela Hvitved (ahvitved@asbmb.org) is managing editor of Molecular and Cellular Proteomics.

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