spike protein / chief rank

While I want only to draw and paint, I will share a few things (that I sort of understand) about the spike protein.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is martinez_spikeprotein1.jpg

The most obvious identifying feature, and for me it’s the pull to draw the coronavirus again (and again), is the spike protein (S protein). By now everyone is familiar with this proteinscape (yes, I made the word up) along the outer edge of the virus which forms the identifying crown that it is named after.

Visually, I appreciate layout, structure and textural qualities.

I purchase new materials and enjoy the freedom archival marking pens bring me (I do not let go of paint and brush). The pens allow for a tighter and narrower clean line that holds its fluidity.

I look up the word protein to find it comes from the Greek proteios defined as chief rank or first place. Interesting, though I can’t say this helps me get any clearer on S proteins. (…or perhaps it does…)

There are many proteins involved in the coronavirus assembly, including M protein (membrane protein) and E protein (envelope protein).

I understand S proteins are glycoproteins meaning they contain a carbohydrate (a slippery sugar molecule) which helps disguise the virus so as not to be detected by host cells.
#penetrating #fusing

Without the S protein, viruses like the (novel) SARS-CoV-2 would not be able to interact with the cells of its potential host and cause infection. It also neutralizes antibodies after infection. Consequently, the S protein was/is ideal target for vaccine and antiviral research.
→ #ChiefRank

Are some proteins programmed to be so sneaky? #SurvivalOfTheMostAdaptable

This subject is more complicated than I can say…so it’s wise for me to return to the studio. I’m keeping this simple. (Cuz I don’t know a virologists and if I did I wouldn’t interrupt them right now cuz they’re probably very busy.)

Spike protein, I wish I’d never heard of you. Go away.


©2021 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

trichuris trichiura

Trichuris comes from the Greek tricho, meaning hair and oura, meaning tail. Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura)common name, whipworm. I gather the name refers to the shape of its hair-like anterior.

My quick note:
Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura), aka, whipworm.
Trichuriasis, aka, whipworm infection aka a neglected tropical disease.

I particularly enjoy drawing the linear, yet sinuous T. trichiura. ↓

The whipworm has a thicker rear end (posterior) and thinner front end (anterior).  Female is larger (35-50mm) than  male (30-45mm).

I’ve introduced you to Dr. María Adelaida Duque, who enjoys her work with the biological pathogen. The focus of my current research is on understanding the interactions between the parasitic nematode Trichuris trichiura and the intestinal epithelia, their host cells. T. trichiura is an animal from the phylum nematoda. Maria reminds me, we can get infected with this parasite when we ingest eggs present in contaminated food or water.

My rendition of whipworms in the intestine.

Two questions direct Maria’s current work:
How does the larvae reach the bottom of the crypt and invade the epithelia?
What are the interactions between larvae and cells promoting this process?

When the larva is liberated, it infects the bottom of the crypts of the intestinal epithelia and creates tunnels inside them: it is a multi-intracellular parasite! One L1 larva (100um) infects about 40-50 cells in one tunnel.

In the tunnels, the larva moults 4 times, growing and shedding their cuticle with each moult, until they become adult worms, either female and male (about 3-5cm), which mate and produce eggs that are liberated in the faeces, thus completing the life cycle.

Unembryonated whipworm eggs

cross section- cecum inflamed with worms

Eggs hatch in the cecum/proximal colon and larvae immediately infect the cells of the epithelium in there.

My questions:
Do they move through any other organs in the body before heading back to the lumen?
How do they make there way and know where to land? What directs them? Is it chemistry? temperature? (I think this might be Maria’s question too.)

Cross section of cecum based on Maria’s photo. I wished I’d worked larger.

About the art: I especially like the active mark-making this cross section ↑ of the cecum allows.

You are looking at contents in the area where the large intestine begin. The center space is called the lumen (Latin for light). It appears like empty space but it is not. Use your imagination…the lumen holds/transports all sort of interesting things. (Is this chyme?)

Close up.Can you see both whipworms and eggs (in the light)?

My notes and stuff that goes on in my head as I paint:
Intra-multicellular parasite (influences black background and palette), you live and reproduce in/and/or outside of host cells. You produce and liberate 5000 eggs per day (yikes!) into the lumen of your host’s gut which eventually exit and drop into a new environment (soil). With support of warmth, moisture and week’s time, your eggs embryonate.
Ingestion of your now developing eggs leads to infection/s as they enter a new gut where a new generation of you burrow in fresh gut lining, molt x4, mature and if allowed, repeat the cycle of the parasites that came before them and you.
(I know this is a long run-on sentenced paragraph. Like I said… it’s the way my brain works when I paint.)

Soil-transmitted helminths (T. trichiura)
uninvited guest
you cause disease (Trichuriasis).

Is there is treatment for this worm infection? Yes, Maria says, but it is not efficient and often we cannot eradicate the infection. That is why we need new drugs and to find a vaccine.

Continued success in your research and public engagement work  → Dr. María Adelaida Duque.


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

an anopheles mosquito and the unicellular organism it transfers

Alejandro Marin Mendez is enthusiastic as he introduces himself to me and tells me about his work as a scientist.

Thinking he lives in Spain, he corrects me and explains he was born in Spain and currently lives in France. He mentions other places he’s lived as well as languages he’s learned. This is the life of a scientist, he happily notes.

We discuss Covid-19 restrictions and then go to the topic of Malaria.

He begins, I focus my research on the malaria parasite, which is called Plasmodium and it is unicellular.

There are 5 species of Plasmodium that affect humans: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. malariae, P. ovale and P. knowlesi. It’s a vector-borne disease which means that it’s transmitted by mosquitoes (of the genus Anopheles).

According to the World Health Organization there are over 220 million cases of malaria infections reported in the world (mainly in the Southern hemisphere) and causes a 400,000 death toll per year, most of them being children under 5 years old infected with P. falciparum. Basically, it’s a massive health burden across the globe, especially affecting children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The parasite needs to invade the RBC’s (red blood cells) as part of its life cycle. In the process of invading and egressing in and out of RBCs in a cycle that lasts between 24 and 72 hours, depending on the species, is when affected people develop all the symptoms (fever, anemia, headaches, muscular pain and in severe cases cerebral comma and death). Within the human body it mostly reproduces asexually, while later in the cycle it produces gametocytes that will commence sexual reproduction (2 cells give 1 cell) within the mosquito. I find that bit fascinating, that an unicellular organism has asexual and sexual reproduction across it’s life cycle!

My brain finds it hard to keep up….unicellular, P. falciparum, vector borne, RBC cycles…
I quick-note (aka doodle quickly) with stuff laying on my desk.

female Anopheles mosquito

My take:
An infected (and pregnant) Anopheles mosquito (vector) bites (sucks nutritious blood for maturation of its eggs) a human (host), injecting the malaria parasite (via its saliva glands) into the bloodstream (in the elongated form of a sporozoite).

The sporozoite (infective agent) enters the liver (hiding from the immune system) and multiplies (asexually) within liver cells (polyhedral hepatocytes). Liver cells eventually burst, sending what are now merozoites (who escape) out into the blood stream.

Did I get this right? Correct me if I didn’t.
Some merozoites (rounder form of the parasite) enter (bind to the surface) erythrocyte (aka, blood cell), where cycle continues in further complex stages: Ring stage, Trophozoite stage, Schizont stage (mature sporozoites)…while other merozoites develop into gametocytes.

Whew…there’s more but I’ll leave it for another day…

work in progress

Early in the zoom call, Alejandro referred to the parasite as a serial killer.

The last thing I ask: Do/does the parasite, in its various stages, communicate with each other?  I paraphrase here ↓ (cuz I found it complicated).
He explains, the parasite is basically a single-celled organism. (This doesn’t answer my question.) He says, we can talk philosophically or perhaps spiritually, and perhaps we might consider it communicates. Perhaps. And then he goes into the molecular and hypotheses…

…serial killer…silently creeping…plasmodium falciparum…

mosquito goes dark. work in progress.

Muchas Gracias Alejandro. Me gustó hablar contigo!
_________________

Alejandro Marin Mendez is a scientist and an avid bicyclist. He’s combined the two things he loves into a Public Engagement initiative where he brings cutting edge science to Secondary Schools and the general public, around the world.
For more  →
scicling.org.

#circles #cycles


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

see one do one teach one

Video

This week I learn about the methodology See One, Do One, Teach One, especially used in the medical world for teaching and/or learning through direct observation. The process can be applied to most any form of education. It feels particularly natural to the Fine Arts and reminds me of an apprenticeship.

While I did go to art school, some of my best teachers were the ones who let me work in the studio with them.

I was introduced to printmaking by artist Kurt Kemp. Kurt began his teaching career in my last year at UTEP. I needed one final Drawing class and an elective, day and time were issues for me. As luck (and kindness) would have it, he allowed me to sign up for his advanced independant studio classes. I was drawing in the early morning, and ending the evening with printmaking. I’d never printed at that point, though it melded naturally with drawing. Kurt loan me tools. He taught me to get rich black, printed marks using a hand-made mezzotint rocker on a sheet of copper. I can still hear him say Don’t drop it! This one is my own personal rocker. I’ve had it for years (yikes!).

I fell in love with drawing, copper plates, BFK paper, ripped edges, the smell of ink and all things drawing and printmaking (yes, art-making heightens all the senses). And I redirected my studies, 3D to 2D. Eventually attending NMSU for graduate school, I continued printmaking with Spencer Fiddler, whom like Kurt, had at one time worked under the great Mauricio Lasansky.  I watched both of these men make their ink from raw material, both were sensitive to the tarlatan clothe, the inking and the final printing of their copper plates.

But I digress…
I sure didn’t expect to take this trip down memory lane today, nor while creating a quick video on drawing a neuron, a few days back.

Back to drawing…
I rip a piece of heavy duty black drawing paper (deckled edges) and video tape about 34 seconds of the process as I lay in my subject, a neuron. I turn the video off to work freely, hoping to move easy and steady.
(Note: The video, I use as a means to practice focus, quick-decision mark-making, and  loosen up.)

I’m looking to balance the study with both play and accuracy by its final stage.

I stop moving quickly. I fuss with materials, edges and lines. I probably work a little more than an hour to get the first layout. A few more to get the second set up. The next day I work the composition to a final stage (btw…this drawing of a neuron is small!)

I decide the image expresses a control balanced by a loose and playful quality.

Which is probably why I think about Kurt and Spencer today.

My first study above, is a neuron. My smaller, second composition below, done in similar process, is the neuron’s supporting cell called a glial cell.

#BackInTheStudio #It’sBeenAToughSummer #UrBeautifulBrain #LiveAndLearn #SeeOneDoOneTeachOne

ahh…life

Ahh, mother. Ahh, infant. Ahh, life.

Last Fall, while working to understand the microbiome and its relationship to obesity, I knew it was in the cards that I’d focus on a neonatal study and breastfeeding (among other things).

I listen to podcasts as I paint. My drawing paper is a good place to note key points. #TheBodyIsPolitcal

I’ve learned to consider mother’s milk as food, medicine and signal (thanks to Katie Hinde and → Mammals Suck…Milk!).  This is complicated stuff (I say this a lot lately). I’m sharing general notes to explain my direction and include a few links for the science.

So much happens behind the scenes, when mother feeds child. It seems somewhat multi-leveled and maybe multi-dimensional (I don’t mean the latter to read esoteric but admit I like implication). I know breastfeeding shapes babies immune system. I learn it shapes the brain, influences emotion and behavior, and more clearly I understand breast milk feeds (gut) microbes.

My representation of the structure of a lactating breast includes secretory lobules, alveoli, ducts, fat and connective tissue ↑. I circle and magnify area to emphasize the focus. Isolating and highlighting ↓ epithelial layer (I like these cells!), I note milk lipid droplets and casein (And I wonder if the same animal protein when added to pigment becomes my Casein paint!)

I read oxytocin makes muscle cells contract and prolactin support the milk secreting cells.

Stem Cells

I learn human breast milk contains (non-invasive) pluripotent ↑ stem cells → mammalssuckmilk. .

While initially I plan to only draw the intestine, I recall babies have a large (way large!) #ThymusGland. It enters composition as do heart and lungs. And I always include the mighty #Liver.

Mother’s breast milk is living. It is both nourishment (calcium, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous, potassium…etc) and hydration. And if I understand correctly…each and every time (wow) mother feeds baby, her milk satisfies the child’s needs at that particular moment in time.

Baby’s spit/saliva carries a signal as it washes ↑ back up into mother’s breast where receptors pick it up. Communication via fluids…you can imagine the benefit to a building immune system ↓. (Breast milk mixed with baby saliva generates hydrogen peroxide → H2O2  )

I don’t forget (I wrote about them before) the human milk oligosaccharides ↑ (HMO’s), the complex carbohydrates unique to human milk that baby cannot absorb. Reminder: HMO’s act as fertilizer for populating gut microbes. (fucosyllactose component of oligosaccharide feed bifidobacteria)
#IntestinalFlora #GutEcosystem #Microbiome #ImUnderstandingSymbiosis!

I go back to my desktop notes to make sure I’ve included particulars in the post. While there’s more to the artwork, I repeat and emphasize…the relationship between newborn and mother is multi-dimensional.
#ILoveMitochondria

A woman’s body. Will continue. Holding the life.

While painting this study, I read and listen to Katie Hinde, whose work was introduced to me by Dr Joe Alcock.
→ TEDWomen What we don’t know about mother’s milk
→ Blog  Mammals Suck… Milk!


This post is dedicated to my sister who lives in Connecticut. Analissa had her first baby   just as the country went into physical-distancing. I hope to meet my ↓ nephew before too long. In the meantime, I text her when I learn a fun fact.

Nephew Roberto AKA Tito

And to my neighbor Amy, mom to 4 week old Hailey (this Portrait of…).

A few years back after having her first baby, Amy came over carrying several of her text books on anatomy, physiology and microbiology, which she left for me to use. They’re heavy! (I use them regularly.)


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

it rains, it pours…i draw

Teri, my friend who is an emergency nurse, upon seeing my virus study in social media, writes:
What did you do during the pandemic Monica?
Responding to herself she continues…I sketched it.


Enjoying the first part of Spring Break, I spend a couple of long days outdoors before the rains come. By end of week, I receive word school break is extended another week, to the 20th. News of COVID-19 fill the airwaves.

It rains. It pours. I draw.

Coronavirus: Internal structure. Note Spikes (glycoproteins) and single strand RNA

Fascinated by viruses, I note the coronavirus described as aesthetically pleasing. I agree.

In the studio the latter part of the week, I draw while listening to science podcasts, in general, on the subject of viruses, in particular on COVID-19. I learn about amplifier hosts and reservoir hosts. I learn words like retrovirus and zoonosis.

COVID-19 stands for coronavirus disease 2019. It gets its name from the spikes on its surface which resemble a crown. There are a number of coronaviruses (including MERS and SARS).

I understand now COVID-19 is a concern because it is a single-stranded RNA virus (top image) that mutates quickly and can travel on a sneeze and a cough.

This is why Spring Break extends another week and events are cancelled – it’s logical.

coronavirus – external structure

Days flow…oddly different from morning to evening now. Tara, my neighbor, shows me a photo she takes of the empty fruit section at the grocery store today.

….Mostly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Mostly Cloudy, Scattered Thunderstorms….

#WhoAmI? #WhatAmI? #WhatIsThisWorld? #WhatIsMyRelationshipToIt
#Art #Science #Curiosity #GottaHaveArt


Here are some educational (and so accessible) sources on viruses in general and some on COVID-19 in particular.

Out of ASU: Zombified Podcast is intelligent and makes learning easy, fun and sometimes…icky (in a good way).  This week they cover viruses. The episode was taped before current crisis began, making the ending play like a prediction.
 Bat shit featuring David Quammen

On COVID-19 in particular → David Quammen, Fresh-Air 

Everything virology, with last 7 episodes on COVID-19 → TWiV This Week in Virology

Food for thought (with valuable embedded links) →  How to act cooperatively in the face of a pandemic


©2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY MONICA AISSA MARTINEZ

 

gut. brain.

What do you visualize when you read the phrase Gut-Brain Axis? Or Brain-Gut Connection?

I picture very active brains communicating with very active intestines. Or is it the other way around? Both. It’s a two-way, busy connect especially when you consider the wandering nerve, aka, the vagus nerve. Think: 2-way, information highway. The vagus nerves are paired cranial nerves (CN X) and happen to be my favorite of all the nerves.  Because it is the longest nerve in the body it moves alongside heart and lungs and goes through all the organs of the digestive tract, connecting brain to gut.

I enjoy the challenge of capturing Veronica’s likeness while I work her profile.  I organize and sketch in the brain. The small area of my drawing is detailed into a collaged map of El Paso,TX,  where my cousin lives.

I have fun with the photo ↑ and strategically place color pencils to direct attention to the brainstem, the area of the brain I am working to understand.  I imagine the space to be like a facility loaded with chemicals and chemical messengers / hormones and neurotransmitters. Think: Food intake. Signals and controls. Many and complex. (FYI – purple pencil points to vagus nerve start.)

Some of the hormones involved include adipoectin (a protein hormone that modulates glucose regulation and fatty acid oxidation), and leptin (made by fat cells and decreases appetite).

Veronica, during our initial conversation, noted ghrelin. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. If I understand correctly, it is primarily released in the stomach and signals hunger to the brain. It also plays a role in determining how quickly hunger returns after a meal. And it promotes fat storage. After my surgery, she says, no more ghrelin. No more! What does this mean?  Forever? I ask.  I don’t know, she answers. And now you eat because??
I must live!
Ah…survival!

Side note: The hormones that play a role in obesity, do they also play a role in anorexia?

I haven’t brought the microbiome in yet. But I will. Now when I hear gut-brain, I also think of microbes.  FYI…they can influence hunger and satiety.

Anyway…I’m still laying ground work…which is both complicated to figure out and complicated to draw. Both my brain and my hands are keeping busy.

One more thing…
In early posts I highlight the brown adipose tissue (BAT) and the white adipose tissue (WAT). Now I study and set in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) located under the skin and visceral adipose tissue (VAT).

In the image above, ↑ I enhance (darker area) the greater omentum (cool name! for an organ) , an example of VAT. It looks like lace, doesn’t it?  This apron of fatty tissue, connective tissue and lymphatics,  comes down from the stomach and stretches over the intestines. The greater omentum, aka, Policeman of the abdomen, might just be the first line of defense against toxins or infections (microbes).

BTW…yes, there is also a lesser omentum…

Meanwhile… drawing circles/making connections.


Keeping a note:
Amylin is a hormone, co-stored and co-secreted with insulin in response to nutrients. It promotes satiety by mediating brain function, including appetite inhibition.

Amylin also plays a role in neural regeneration. It helps regulate glucose metabolism and modulates inflammation. I pull it aside and note it here because of a possible link to Alzheimer’s Disease (Type II Diabetes).

art school in med school – we workshop

Arriving to the University of Arizona College of Medicine with a plan to meet with first year medical and health professional students, I take a moment to look out over a cloudy downtown Phoenix…noting lots of change in the last 12 months.

I’ve not seen Cindi, Director of Art in Medicine, since my solo-exhibition last Winter. We connect in the Health Science Education Building, catching up in the elevator as we head to a classroom.

She fills me in on the art supplies and she’s not kidding – good stuff awaits.

I’m pleased to see Rebecca, the director of the Clinical Anatomy Lab. Participating in the workshop a second time. She shares the idea she considers as well as the personal experience behind it.

I feel the excitement as students walk in and see the art supplies. An independent bunch, they pick out some things and begin to set up at a desk.

I make a quick introduction and give them general direction as I show samples of my work. We have a few hours together this afternoon, prepared and confident, there is no hesitation to begin drawing.

Students are near the end of their Clinical Anatomy Block and are preparing for the program’s annual Ceremony of Appreciation. The February evening will celebrate and honor their cadaver donors with a night of art, prose and music.

Those interested in visual art-making are here today.

Participants  use color-copies, computers and medical models to support their drawing. Most important they bring to the table a personal experience.

One by one everyone begins to draw. I move through the room to connect with them – they each share a thoughtful characteristic about their particular donor.

One student describes her donor’s hands. The drawing will hold the experience as well as  allow her to share it.

Another talks to me about the vertebrae of the neck. The top 2 bones are different from the others, she notes. Her composition is high contrast and I see her line work is fluid.  You like to draw, don’t you?  She nods her head and says yes.

I gather from conversation everyone is busy with a full schedule. They appreciate this time and place to focus on making art.

Soon the afternoon comes to an end. While no one completely finishes, everyone is well on their way.

I learn some new things….among which are the papillary muscles ↑ and the  chordae tendineae. Yes, we really do have heart-strings!

The last few months I start to consider everyone’s anatomy must differ. In particular, I consider the liver and wonder how its form varies from person to person.

One student confirms the uniqueness of every individual human body. We are different inside and out. She details the liver and the lungs and shares a general impression noting the human body’s truly organic nature.  Her peers confirm. It’s a wonder – what they describe.


On a side note:
I  continue to find connection between individuals interested in the arts and in the sciences. We share a quality of discipline and have careful observation skills, among other things.

As I walk around the room I find a model of the eye that’s been left on the shelf. It’s the  perfect connecting symbol for this art school in med school afternoon workshop.

Best to all of you – and to the dignity and honoring of each of your donors.


The evening before the workshop, in my studio I listen to Fresh-Air. An interview begins which honors another type of donor:
A Surgeon Reflects On Death, Life And The ‘Incredible Gift” of Organ Transplant