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Medaka's Epigenetic Modification
Genome Research Cover Art

 The modification of histones plays a crucial role in the control of DNA accessibility and, consequently, gene expression. In non-mammalian vertebrates, most histone modifications are thought to be intensively erased, however, some histone modifications escape reprogramming and their potential functional roles remain unknown. The new study published in Genome Research, Dr. Fukushima and his team found that the three histones (H3K27ac, H3K27me3, and H3K9me3) escape complete reprogramming in Japanese Killifish, medaka (Oryzias latipes) embryo. Furthermore, they experimentally demonstrated the functional roles of such retained modifications at early stages.

The paper was published at GenomeResearch(2023);33(4).


Old glass floats as a metaphor for chromatin


 About 100 years ago in the Pacific, Japan’s fishing fleet used glass floats, called “Bindama”. Bindama were handmade by a glass blower, used from especially old sake bottles in Japan. Today, glasses have been replaced by aluminum, plastic, or Styrofoam and Bindama are no longer being used, but they are still float in the world’s ocean, primary in the Pacific. I personally think that Bindama is pretty wanted to used it as a metaphor for this research.

Pig, bubbles and dark blue background. Different papers and different media.

 After a meeting with Dr. Fukushima, we came to an idea to trap some medakas within Bindama and only those Bindama were wrapped in ropes. Other Bindama losing their ropes means they lose histone modifications.

Bindama paintings and medaka drawings.

 To express a transparent beauty of Bindama, I used watercolor paintings as a base and added some bright highlight in digital. Medaka were drawn on the film using color pencils then later combined with Bindama paintings. Before finalizing the illustration, I digitally added some tags written as H3K27ac, H3K27me3, and H3K9me3 to make the message clearer.

A finished Cover Art (with official Genome Research logo.)

 The official cover legend says: “Old glass floats, which were once used for fishery, are pictured as a metaphor for chromatin and incomplete erasure of histone modifications in medaka (Oryzias latipes) early embryos. Over time, many glass floats lose their ropes, much like histone modifications are eliminated from chromatin after fertilization. However, some glass floats still have the ropes attached and remain available for fishery (represented by the images of medaka within). In this issue, functional roles of retained histone modifications during early development are demonstrated. (Cover illustration by Misaki Ouchida.”

I was highly satisfied with the contrast between blue-ish Bindama background and orange Medaka. Thank you, editors, to make the logo orange as well!

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