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On the cover: The cover depicts a battle in the bloodstream between molecules of the immune system and two invaders. The front cover shows blood plasma. Within the three-dimensional computer image (the lenticular autostereogram shown in the inset), antibodies (Y- and T-shaped molecules in white and magenta) are binding to a virus (the large green spherical assembly at lower right), labeling it for destruction. A cross section through a bacterial cell extends across most of the back cover (in shades of yellow and green). The blood has recognized this invader by using antibodies and the six-armed complement C1 protein (in pink), which then triggered the formation of a cylindrical membrane attack complex (in magenta) that has pierced the bacterial outer membrane. Both the inset and the complete painted illustration show all macromolecules at a magnification of 1.5 million. At this magnification, individual atoms are about the size of a grain of salt, and typical human cells would fill an entire building.

The three-dimensional model depicted within the inset was created by Arthur J. Olson with software developed in the Olson laboratory as part of the Atoms to Cells project (see project description in the Department of Molecular Biology section of this book) for modeling and visualizing complex molecular environments. This model is composed of more than 450 individual protein domains, ranging in size from the 60 protomers making up the large, spherical poliovirus (in green) to a single, tiny insulin molecule (in magenta). The model was constructed by using atomic-level descriptions for each molecule, for a total of roughly 1.5 million atoms. Detailed surfaces were computed for each type of protein by using MSMS by Michel Sanner, and then were smoothed to a lower resolution by using the HARMONY spherical harmonic surfaces developed by Bruce Duncan. Each type of protein was then copied and positioned in the three-dimenstional space, either with symmetry or randomly, by using the SymmetryServer developed by Tom Macke. The image of the model was rendered by using the AVS dataflow visualization environment. In order to produce the lenticular autostereogram, 11 different views of the scene were rendered, simulating different positions of the viewer's eyes. The three-dimensional effect is achieved by slicing and interleaving the 11 views vertically across the image and by using a plastic sheet with narrow vertical lenses to focus a different view to each eye.

The watercolor painting was created by David S. Goodsell on the basis of experimental data from many laboratories, including hundreds of individual molecular structures, the concentrations of molecules within bacteria and blood plasma, and electron micrographs of bacterial cells. A key to the molecules depicted in the painting is included inside the back cover.

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