2021 AMI Online Salon

Signal Transduction Waves in Cancer

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Jennifer Fairman
  • Client: Zhan Huiwang, Sayak Bhattacharya, Huaqing Cai, Pablo A. Iglesias, Chuan-Hsiang Huang, Peter N. Devreotes; JHU-SOM Department of Cell Biology
  • Copyright: Johns Hopkins University, 2020
  • Medium/software used: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop
  • Final presentation format: Journal Cover
  • Primary Audience: Scientists (Cell Biologists, Developmental Biologists, Oncologists)


Project Description

Signal transduction waves, produced by the Ras/PI3K/ERK biochemical network, control migratory behavior and oncogenic transformation in epithelial cells. Cell surface activities propagate as coordinated waves (similar to the rolling surf of the ocean) on the cell cortex and delineate molecular feedback causing turbulence and excitability. As normal cells transform into cancer cells, they display more waves on their surfaces suggesting that cancer signal transduction activity is increased in metastatic cancer cells. This illustration metaphorically depicts the difference between this biochemical wave activity exhibited on normal and cancer epithelial cell surfaces. This symbolism is represented by calmer (basal) waves on the left, and turbulent (refractory or excitable oncogenic) waves on the right. A splashing crab is shown as an additional symbolic nod to cancer.