Modeling Kinetochores: When Form and Function Becomes Art, An Interview with Blerta Shtylla

1) How did you compose this image?

The image shows a rendition of the kinetochore attachment site and a kinetochore microtubule. When working on theoretical aspects of force generation at the kinetochore site, it has been useful to start by first drawing a simple diagram of the key working components of the system. This image arose due to attempts to visualize and integrate our physical interpretation of the site with the mathematical model results. I composed this image using Adobe Illustrator, since I was looking to include the raw images generated from our mathematical model for microtubule shapes with the rest of our drawn the components.

2) What prompted you to submit your image as cover art?

The geometry and arrangement of the kinetochore components in this image was visually striking to us, and so we thought it might make for a suitable cover art image of the Biophysical Journal.

3) How does this image reflect your scientific research?

This image is a good representative of the type of work that I engage in. We are interested in using mathematical modeling in order to interpret and understand the guiding principles of function and form for various
cellular components. The work on kinetochores is an excellent example of this, in that these sites are highly dynamic in their action, difficult to tease apart experimentally, but their shape and proper operation is
extremely important for precision during mitotic division.

4) Where do you see the artistry in your image? How did you come to see this?

I would say that the artistry would be in the composition of all the parts from our model results with known proteins in kinetochores. My main goal when working on this image was to draw a diagram of the site in a way that it vividly portrays to the viewer that the site is a dynamic living machine with moving components that can change shape.

5) Do you consider yourself an artist as well as a scientist? Any ideas or aspirations for your next science-as-art submission?

I would not call myself an artist most days, but I find that much of what we do requires a good degree of creativity. Many times, a great degree of creativity is needed in order to synthesize the intrinsic components of the systems that we model. Drawing diagrams, creating visualization tools helps us better understand the system we are modeling. In the end, it is the excitement of the science and mathematics that makes this even more fun and serves as a major form of inspiration.

7) Do you have a website where our readers can view your recent



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