BiophysJ Cover Visually Answers Scientific Questions

Betty Gaffney describes the latest Biophysical Journal cover, based on the paper “Locating a Lipid at the Portal to the Lipoxygenase Active Site,” by Betty Gaffney, Miles D. Bradshaw, Stephen D. Frausto, Fayi Wu, Jack H. Freed, and Peter Borbat.

The dimly lit background of protein helices on the cover reveals that the fifteen lines in cyan are distances in the 20-60 Å range and these were determined by pulsed EPR. Our study asks “where does a lipid gain access to the substrate channel leading to the catalytic iron in lipoxygenase?” The red spheres are point dipole approximations of nitroxide spins attached to specific protein sites; the iron ion is orange; and the result of the study, the location and motional range of a spin labeled head group of lysolecithin, is a yellow ellipsoid. A pseudoatom with anisotropic temperature factors was created in PyMol to render the ellipsoid.

My inspiration for the cover picture was a network slide shown in an ecology seminar. I realized I could adapt a molecular graphics program to draw a similar picture. Then, Miles Bradshaw and I came up with a cover figure that we hope is scientifically and artistically satisfying. The view of lipoxygenase is the same as in Figure 2, but with the 2s ellipsoid from Figure 6 added. The viewing plane of the figure was rotated to achieve a visually satisfying balance of objects. Lighting reveals that the ellipsoid has the smallest radius nearly perpendicular to the page.

My other art in science interests are the beautiful patterns of angle and magnetic field variations of transition dipoles for EPR transitions of high spin iron.

– Betty Gaffney

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