The latest cover of the Biophysical Journal features an image based on the paper “Kinetics of the triplex-duplex transition in DNA,” written by Il-Buem Lee, Seok-Cheol Hong, Nam-Kyung Lee, and Albert Johner. Artist Il-Buem Lee collaborated with co-author Seok-Cheol Hong to explain the artistry behind the image in the blog post below. Click here to view their latest research.
I created the cover art by myself using Photoshop by myself. The triple helical DNA strands were drawn by 3D effect tools and a pair of dyes displaying FRET was depicted as a 2D image overlaid on the DNA image.
My advisor asked me whether we would participate in the cover art contest after receiving an email from BJ encouraging participation. I gave it a try hoping that, if my art work was selected, the biological, physical, and technical significance of my work would be better understood. I also hope that the cover helps demonstrate the merits of single-molecule FRET technique in the field of nucleic acids research.
The image shows a triplex DNA, an intriguing non-B-DNA structure, which consists of a double-stranded DNA bound by a third single-stranded DNA via hoogsteen base-pairing. Despite biological and practical significance, the kinetics of folding/unfolding transitions has not been fully examined. In order to detect the transitions in real time, we utilized the single-molecule FRET technique as it is an ideal technique to gain kinetic and conformational information at the molecular level.
Upon triplex formation, the donor and the acceptor dyes were designed to be juxtaposed and the FRET would occur between them. The FRET signal can inform us of the state of the molecular conformation. So I would emphasize this aspect in this cover art. The green and red waves in the image represent emissions from the dyes and naturally describe the FRET between donor and acceptor dyes.
Creating a cover art is similar to doing a research. Both require clever ideas and much effort. Although detailed goals are different for artists and scientists, the process to reach their goal should be similar. In future, I plan to address biophysically more significant issues using more sophisticated methods. If I have chance, I would try again and then draw more artistic and artful images to represent my work.
We are very happy and honored to have our work on the cover of BJ! Thanks to the editors for choosing our cover art for the last issue of this year.