Darwin, mais complexidade: a arte avançando a ciência - insights moleculares em nível de nanoescala

sexta-feira, novembro 03, 2017

Art Advancing Science: Filmmaking Leads to Molecular Insights at the Nanoscale

Charles Reilly† and Donald E. Ingber*†‡§ 

† Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, United States

‡ Vascular Biology Program and Department of Surgery, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, United States

§ John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, United States

ACS Nano, Article ASAP

Publication Date (Web): October 18, 2017

Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

*E-mail: don.ingber@wyss.harvard.edu.

ACS Editors' Choice - This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.


Many have recognized the potential value of facilitating activities that span the art–science interface for the benefit of society; however, there are few examples that demonstrate how pursuit of an artistic agenda can lead to scientific insights. Here, we describe how we set out to produce an entertaining short film depicting the fertilization of the egg by sperm as a parody of a preview for another Star Wars movie to excite the public about science, but ended up developing a simulation tool for multiscale modeling. To produce an aesthetic that communicates mechanical continuity across spatial scales, we developed custom strategies that integrate physics-based animation software from the entertainment industry with molecular dynamics simulation tools, using experimental data from research publications. Using this approach, we were able to depict biological physicality across multiple spatial scales, from how sperm tails move to collective molecular behavior within the axoneme to how the molecular motor, dynein, produces force at the nanometer scale. The dynein simulations, which were validated by replicating results of past simulations and cryo-electron microscopic studies, also predicted a potential mechanism for how ATP hydrolysis drives dynein motion along the microtubule as well as how dynein changes its conformation when it goes through the power stroke. Thus, pursuit of an artistic work led to insights into biology at the nanoscale as well as the development of a highly generalizable modeling and simulation technology that has utility for nanoscience and any other area of scientific investigation that involves analysis of complex multiscale systems.

Keywords: animation; axoneme; dynein; multiscale modeling; simulation; tensegrity