A lot was going on this summer but we got a wonderful opportunity to work more on molecular illustration. This summer in our clinical sciences, we talked more about G-protein coupled receptors (GPCR). Rhodopsin is the first GPCR which was crystallized in the year 2000.
The assignment was open ended and the goal was to make any kind of illustration involving GPCRs. It could have been a molecular mechanism, or anything involving the structure.
As one who studied chemistry, I was very much drawn to structure. I read quite a number of papers and I became interested in the molecular interactions that contribute to the stability of Rhodopsin before it is exposed to light (photons). There are many factors that contribute to this but I decided to focus on only one aspect. There is a salt bridge in Rhodopsin that aids in the stability of the inactive Rhodopsin. The salt bridge is what I chose to illustrate below! Helices 3 and 6 are the major players in stabilising Rhodopsin and when light is absorbed, a conformational change results in the outward rotation of Helix 6 and new interactions stabilise the photoactivated Opsin.
Now, I learnt a lot of valuable things about how to dissect an illustration and make sure that the main message is read accurately and clearly. In my initial draft below everything was competing for attention and the main point of my illustration was lost. I believe the illustration above draws the viewer to the specific residues that are forming these interactions and then the helices, and lastly the structure as a whole and the other helices.