Illustrator:  Melanie Connolly of Chicago Medical Graphics

Information about SARS-CoV-2 is changing hourly, and members of the Association of Medical Illustrators have banded together to compile research and give the public the most up-to-date information possible. Based on these combined efforts and recent structures released weekly by the Protein Data Bank, Melanie Connolly of Chicago Medical Graphics built this 3D rendering of the virus that causes COVID-19. The image includes numerous M surface proteins (PDB 3I6G), a few E pores (PDB 5X29) and several large trimer S spikes. Nearly all S spikes are in the “closed” conformation, and a few show a single chain in the “open” conformation, indicating readiness to bind the ACE2 surface molecule found on human alveolar lung cells. This binding mechanism is part of what has allowed the virus to infect so readily. Melanie and her colleagues are working to better understand the complete binding and shuttling method for this virus with the goal of elucidating areas for potential antiviral drug targeting. She hopes to eventually build a molecular animation on this mechanism as more structures are identified by frontline researchers.

3D Biomedical Animator Melanie Connolly and Certified Medical Illustrator Peg Gerrity create illustrations and animations for the healthcare, film, legal, and pharmaceutical industries. Through their company Chicago Medical Graphics, they lease thousands of existing stock illustrations including full sets of 40 weekly fetal images for pregnancy websites, clinics, and parents. They also produce custom art, and with extensive backgrounds in immunology and microbiology, they especially enjoy creating stills and films explaining the pharmacokinetics of drug therapy and the ultrastructure of disease processes.

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