2021 AMI Online Salon

How Transcription Begins

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Valerie Altounian
  • Client: Science magazine
  • Copyright: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2021
  • Medium/software used: Cinema 4D, Photoshop
  • Final presentation format: Journal cover for print and online
  • Primary Audience: Subscribers of Science and viewers of Science’s online presence

Project Description

This is the human preinitiation and Mediator complex. This massive supercomplex targets a promoter region of DNA to initiate gene transcription. This structure allowed the authors to see that Mediator (orange, left) binds RNA pol II (dark purple) and stimulates phosphorylation of its C-terminal domain (CTD, in spotlight). The purpose of this illustration is to display the complexity of the structure, and to highlight the CTD of RNA PolII. To do so, I found a point of view where the CTD was fully visible, the overall shape of the complex was unobscured, and the internal DNA path was defined (I added DNA to continue off to the top and bottom). I chose to display as ribbons because their visual complexity helps illustrate the overall complexity of the structure. A hot light on the CTD in a dark scene created contrast to lead the eye to the fairly small chain. In the background are individual transcription factors to give an impression that the supercomplex begins as many individual parts.