The Guardian of the Genome [Science Tattoo]

By Carl Zimmer | June 7, 2009 11:52 pm

p53-goodflip440.jpgJacylnn, a medical student, writes: “If you assign a certain color to each base, this double helix tattoo represents the first 45 nucleic acids from the first exon of p53.  p53 is a transcription factor known as the “guardian of the genome.” It sends damaged cells into apoptosis and thus helps prevent cancer.  I studied p53 and other targets of the SV40 tumor virus while working on a molecular biology degree at The University of Pittsburgh.  I’m now a medical student at Nova Southeastern University.  My husband, who is much more right-brained than I am, designed the tattoo for me.”

[Update: Thanks to eagle-eyed readers who realized that the original photo was backwards. Fortunately, the error was photographic and not a matter for laser tattoo removal.]

Click here to go to the full Science Tattoo Emporium.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science Tattoo Emporium

Comments (13)

Links to this Post

  1. WildHiTech » La Tattoo Girl più scientifica | June 9, 2009
  1. Another Kevin

    Another one for your collection of images of left-handed DNA?

  2. Noah

    Another Kevin beat me to it. Unless this is a mirror-image, that is not Earth DNA!

  3. Interesting tattoo – that could potentially fall into the category of “regrettable” a few years down the line, though.

  4. Gaythia

    The wearer views this tatoo through a mirror.

  5. I noticed the orientation of the bases before I recognized the handedness error. The base-pair “rungs” should be horizontal, not vertical!

  6. Jaclynn

    I’ve had it for 5 years, haven’t regretted it yet! :)

    It’s the mirror image – but you guys are very astute

  7. Alex

    Calm down guys! It’s a very cool artistic interpretation. I assume it was not intended as a reference diagram. After all, I don’t see five carbon sugars and the turns are quite 3.4nm. Oh wait, it’s just a tattoo!

  8. Thanks everyone. I’ve flipped the picture.

  9. Dev

    Too bad this chick is married!

  10. Another Kevin

    To biology mavens who’re bright
    The first pic was a very strange sight!
    The DNA spiral
    Is known to be chiral
    And usually twists to the right.

  11. Cool tattoo, love it! I’m not the tattoo kinda chick, but I want to get molecule shaped jewelry (like from molecular muse, I wrote a post on it recently) to display my love for biochem – you gotta do it somewhere!

    Another Kevin – like the limmerick :)

  12. Xeis

    what sequence did you use?


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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