“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139.13, NIV
Did you know that proteins are art? One of the tools that researchers use to visualize the shape of proteins is X-ray protein crystallography. By analyzing the way that proteins scatter high-powered X-rays, scientists can look into the world of the unseen. Scientists study the shapes that are revealed in these X-ray crystal structures to understand how shape affects the function of these amazing molecules. Different sequences of the twenty natural amino acids (the primary structure) hook up to create unique and beautiful 3-D shapes (the tertiary structure). The “like” amino acids group closer together to form hydrogen bonds and the “unlike” amino acids repel each other in a symphony of interactions that ultimately creates a masterpiece. These amazing 3-D proteins then interact with other proteins and biomolecules in extremely complex reaction cascades that ultimately lead to the essential processes of life. The picture above is an X-ray structure of one such protein called RNA polymerase. This protein contains more than 30,000 atoms and it translates the genetic information in DNA to form another biomolecule called RNA.
I am so thankful that God has enabled man to use his God-given creativity to peer into the previously unknown world of biochemistry in such a dramatic way. Scientists like myself use this structural information to understand disease states, and then work together to develop new drugs to treat diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. I don’t think that you have to be a scientist to appreciate the beauty and incredible complexity of proteins like RNA polymerase. Proteins like these are the nuts and bolts that God used when He created life. The Bible says that, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NIV) As I meditate upon this verse, it compels me to praise our God who has enabled sinful man to get a glimpse of the unseen world that He created. How wonderfully skilled and perfect is our God, the Divine Artist of the Universe.