Sunday Night Sketches

Other responsibilities have kept me from updating my blog. Until I post something more substantial, I took a break from work this evening to draw.

An apathetic osteoblast, bored with his task of feeding the mono nucleated osteoclast precursors RANK ligand.

My attempt at the macrophage is for Heather over at Escaping Anergy and inspired by a couple of the images found here. Plus, the osteoclast and macrophage, both derived from the monocyte lineage, are sort of cellular cousins. Furthermore, considering that osteoclasts essentially spit up acid like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” to degrade bone matrix, and macrophages rival the gluttony of No-Face in “Spirited Away,” these cells might be a couple of the most bad-ass cells in our bodies.

Osteoclasts have feelings too.

This week has been quite busy for me, and I haven’t gotten to address a number of things on the blog that I would like to (including the #womanspace outrage that is rightfully flooding the twitter-sphere/blogosphere). However, I thought I would take the time to post something quick and fun. My research focuses on signals involved in regulating osteoclast (the bone cells responsible for breaking down old and damaged bone) differentiation. Heather, blogging at Escaping Anergy, explains these cells and how they relate to immunology in more detail here. (She’s a finalist for the 2011 Blogging Scholarship, so go vote now!) As a hobby, I draw a little bit, so I recently made a couple of attempts at bringing some life to these awesome multinucleated cells.

Hope you enjoy!

This is my first sketch.
I followed this up with a color version of the same idea.

Traditionally, the bone remodeling process was thought to be largely dictated by osteoblasts (the cells that create new bone matrix), which secrete RANK Ligand to induce osteoclast differentiation; however, we now understand that osteoclasts aren’t as passive as was previously thought, and communicate with osteoblasts through Eph-Ephrin signaling. Furthermore, recent evidence (read more here and here,) is turning this model on its head, now suggesting that osteocytes (cells embedded in mature bone matrix, responsible for sensing microfractures and initiating bone repair) may be the primary source of RANKL that directs osteoclast differentiation. This drawing, however, harkens back to earlier days.  What a mean osteoblast…

Looming osteoblast

And finally, the perils of fusion. This next image imagines the horror these unsuspecting mononucleated osteoclasts must feel when they start fusing with their neighbor.  How would you like it?

The perils of fusion

My hope is to develop more in this series as I explore the “characters” of my favorite cells. If you have any type of cell you’d like to see in action, let me know. I’ll see what I can come up with and post it here.

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