Paolo Matteini, one of the authors of the article featured on the cover of the September 18 issue of Biophysical Journal, is also the artist of the cover image. The article, Thermal transitions of fibrillar collagen unveiled by SHG microscopy of corneal stroma, was authored by Matteini, Riccardo Cicchi, Fulvio Ratto, Dimitrios Kapsokalyvas, Francesca Rossi, Marella de Angelis, Francesco S. Pavone, and Roberto Pini. Below, Matteini describes the image as a representation of the science in the paper.
I created the image with the aim of giving an immediate sketch of the thermal modifications of connective collagen from physiological conditions to its complete homogenization. It represents the thermal destructuration of fibrillar collagen as revealed by the SHG analysis we carried out. Briefly, the well-ordered collagen fibrils at a physiological state (at the bottom of the image), undergo a first destructuration step leading to a disordered fibrillar assembly (at the middle-bottom); this is followed by fibrillar contraction and swelling at around 60°C (middle-top) due to a significant variation in the triple-helix pitch angle of the collagen; finally the breakage of the inter- and intra-molecular covalent bonds leads to a complete homogenization of the collagen (top).
The cover image is a free interpretation of the collagen denaturation process at the nanoscale, which should attract the reader to gain insight into this subject inside the Journal issue. This was conceived as a convenient way to sketch the entire denaturation process without going into detail.
I’m very honored to have my image chosen as a Biophysical Journal cover. Many fundamental papers on the SHG imaging of biological tissues have been published by the Journal and were very useful for us to conceive the collagen denaturation model.