Protein art

Proteins are made up of chains of amino acids, folded and twisted in on themselves to make incredibly complex shapes.

The human brain, it has been said, is kind of a pattern-finding machine — prone to spotting faces on the moon, fat bunnies in the clouds, and Jesus on slices of toast.

When the two meet, you get Protein Art. May K., a Russian-born artist who lives in Germany, takes actual protein structures, sees the other things those structures seem to look an awful lot like, and then draws cartoons based on the resulting apophenia.

For instance, take a look at the protein structure above. After the jump, you can see the picture that May K. saw in its folds.

Bonus: The protein pictured actually comes from a dromedary camel. May K. writes:

This small protein is called nanobody. Sounds cool, but what is a nanobody? It is a fragment of an antibody, in this case an antibody from a camel. Antibodies serve our immune system, they can bind pathogenic substances and protect our body from dangerous invaders. Antibodies are widely used in medicine and biology, e.g for passive immunization or targeting of substances (mostly proteins) of interest. In both fields nanobodies have their advantages. They are stabler and much smaller than conventional antibodies and can pass narrow holes. So literally, for this nanobody camel it is easy to go through the eye of a needle.

Read more at May K.'s Live Journal, where her protein art is collected

Via Frank Swain


  1. Being a protein crystallographer by day I have created more of these ribbon diagrams then I want to think about.  Never thought about making a new figure/drawing out of them but I image I will now.

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