Pictured above are two osteocytes. Osteocytes are the most abundant cell type in the bone, derived from terminally-differentiated osteoblasts that become embedded in the bone matrix during bone formation and remodeling. These cells mediate bone remodeling in response to damage and mechanical forces.
Last year I resumed corresponding with my grandparents by hand-written letters, something I had done in college but stopped as electronic communications became my predominant means of communication. My cursive had atrophied long ago, so I printed the first couple of letters I sent before I resolved to relearn cursive. Never being satisfied with the script I had learned in elementary school (New American Cursive), I began exploring for a handwriting style that appealed to my taste and discovered Spencerian script. I ordered a book and began practicing.
At the same time, I ordered my first fountain pen, the Pilot Metropolitan (the classic Spencerian script seemed appropriately paired with a fountain pen). I have since enjoyed expanding my fountain pen collection and exploring new inks. Pictured below is my fountain pen collection as of March 2017 (left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI Diamond 580 AL, Lamy Safari, Noodler’s Ahab Cherokee Pearl, and Noodler’s Ahab Iroquois).
Through my exploration of the online fountain pen community, I found many artists using fountain pens to create compelling illustrations, so I was soon interested in exploring the artistic applications of this new-found hobby. Below are some of my first attempts at coupling fountain pens with a water brush to achieve some watercolor effects. Pleased with the initial results, I hope to continue to apply this technique to visualizing science.
The nematode C. elegans: hermaphrodite (bottom) and male (top)
A sketch of cancer initiation in a layer of epithelial cells.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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?
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.