Nucleosome illustrations

From basic elements to complex structures. In the cells, DNA is compacted in  small nuclei. The basic unit of this compaction is called nucleosome. From  GATC bases (lines), DNA helix is formed. DNA is wrapped around proteins (balls) as a scarf would warmly wraps your neck during winter. This structure is called the nucleosome and is essential for DNA organisation in your cells.

Graphic illustrations representative nucleosome organization.

Illustrations for scientific conference

For her conferences with non-scientific audience, Sarah Hurtado-Bagès asked me to improve her presentation. She is working on epigenetic. If you don’t what it is… just like me… let me explain you quickly. 

The first illustration shows how from the same information found in your cells, you can obtain different organs interpreting the information in a really different way. When I am talking about information, I mean the genetic information… so your DNA. You know what I mean right? If you don’t, contact Sarah, she knows much better than me, and she will be glad to explain you. This phenomenon is controlled by little epigenetic elements.

The second illustration refers to the capacity of epigenetic elements to activate or silence this genetic information.
The last panel of illustrations recapitulate briefly what is going on in your cells. So let’s imagine earth as your cells. Earth has a nuclei. Well, your cells too. Interestingly, in the nuclei of your cells you fill find your genetic information. Cells also have several power houses producing energy. Briefly, your cells have a nuclei giving orders, and a power house maintaining the proper energy depending on those orders. How is this genetic information regulated? by epigenetic elements! They will turn on or off this transmitted information. Today you learn how little epigenetic elements can regulate the entire energy within cells.

Nad project

Initially, Sarah Hurtado-Bagès shared with me her project related to scientific dissemination. With her boss, she imagined two different illustration to explain their work. I illustrated her work, inspirited by her draft.

Science business:

Two meters of DNA is compacted in each of your cells, CRAZY!!! isn’t it???

This compaction is made by small guys with weird names… as « macroH2A ». In her lab, they discovered that macroH2A influenced how your cells will eat properly. How does it work? well… macroH2A likes to closely interact, if you know what I mean…, with another guy: PARP1. This interaction is so intense that PARP1 does not care about food anymore = « PARP1! go on a diet NOW! »

In this case, cellular food is sustained by another guy: NAD+… little info just for you to know 🙂

Here comes the good news!!! If PARP1 does not eat too much, your cells can eat much better. Tadammmm this is how macroH2A takes care of our little cells.

blablabla well if you want to know more about it, you can find the references of this work below, or follow/contact her:


Funny illustration:

For the first illustration, the histone variant macroH2A was represented as a bollard keeping PARP1 boat away from the powerhouse of the cells: the mitochondria boat

This illustration is the first art work for the NAD project.
line drawing technique
digital painting technique

For the second illustration, Sarah imagined a world of poker and gangster.

I chose to turn characters into fantastic figures. The goal was to give them physical peculiarities related to their real function in the cell.

MacroH2A is represented as a poker dealer, regulating the distribution of NAD+ «poker card». Although PARP1 tries to steal NAD+ card, macroH2A is here to control the game. Thus, mitochondria are protected and remain in the game. I represented the face of the mitochondria character similar to its particular membranes… if you have no idea how it looks: google research « mitochondria », and look at how mitochondria membranes are sexy.

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