Molecular Visualization



Designed for an educated lay audience, this molecular illustration shows the biomolecular structure, function, and mechanism of action (MOA) of a promising cancer suppressor, VS-970.


DNA-damaging agents are a cornerstone of cancer treatment. However, their effectiveness is limited by the DNA-damage response in cancer cells. ATR, a protein kinase, is a critical regulator of this DNA repair pathway and is a novel therapeutic target for drug design.


I created this two-page spread for a popular science magazine to illustrate the mechanism of action for VX-970, an ATR-inhibitor and cancer suppressor. I summarized ATR suppression into five steps showing the mechanism at both microscopic and molecular levels. A combination of colour-coding scheme, depth of field, and simplicity in background design were used to enhance communication clarity.





Biomolecular Visualization


Derek Ng


Educated lay audience


Print, Magazine

two-page spread


UCSF Chimera
Maxon Cinema4D
Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Illustrator


Media Audit

Preliminary research



Ideate &





Knowledge Gap




Burgers, P. M., & Kunkel, T. A. (2017). Eukaryotic DNA replication
fork. Annual review of biochemistry, 86, 417-438.

Stillman, B. (2008). DNA polymerases at the replication fork in
eukaryotes. Molecular cell, 30(3), 259-260.

Stephen P. Bell (MIT / HHMI) 1b: Chromosomal DNA
Replication: Initiation of DNA Replication

Georgescu, R., Yuan, Z., Bai, L., Santos, R. D. L. A., Sun, J., Zhang, D., ... &
O’Donnell, M. E. (2017). Structure of eukaryotic CMG helicase at a
replication fork and implications to replisome architecture and origin
initiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(5), E697-

Wallen, J. R., Zhang, H., Weis, C., Cui, W., Foster, B. M., Ho, C. M., ... &
Ellenberger, T. (2017). Hybrid methods reveal multiple flexibly linked DNA
polymerases within the bacteriophage T7 replisome. Structure, 25(1), 157-

Sun, J., Shi, Y., Georgescu, R. E., Yuan, Z., Chait, B. T., Li, H., &
O'donnell, M. E. (2015). The architecture of a eukaryotic
replisome. Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 22(12), 976.

Fan, J., & Pavletich, N. P. (2012). Structure and conformational change of areplication protein A heterotrimer bound to ssDNA. Genes &development, 26(20), 2337-2347.

Bochkarev, A., Pfuetzner, R. A., Edwards, A. M., & Frappier, L. (1997).
Structure of the single-stranded-DNA-binding domain of replication
protein A bound to DNA. Nature, 385(6612), 176.

Rao, Q., Liu, M., Tian, Y., Wu, Z., Hao, Y., Song, L., ... & Xu, Y. (2018).
Cryo-EM structure of human ATR-ATRIP complex. Cell research, 28(2),


Hall, A. B., Newsome, D., Wang, Y., Boucher, D. M., Eustace, B., Gu, Y., ... & Takemoto, D. (2014). Potentiation of tumor responses to DNA damaging
therapy by the selective ATR inhibitor VX-970. Oncotarget, 5(14), 5674.


Rao, Q., Liu, M., Tian, Y., Wu, Z., Hao, Y., Song, L., ... & Xu, Y. (2018).
Cryo-EM structure of human ATR-ATRIP complex. Cell research, 28(2),


Lu, Y., Knapp, M., Crawford, K., Warne, R., Elling, R., Yan, K., ... &
Mamo, M. (2017). Rationally designed PI3Kα mutants to mimic ATR
and their use to understand binding specificity of ATR
inhibitors. Journal of molecular biology, 429(11), 1684-1704. 2.

Vendetti, F. P., Lau, A., Schamus, S., Conrads, T. P., O'Connor, M. J., &
Bakkenist, C. J. (2015). The orally active and bioavailable ATR kinase
inhibitor AZD6738 potentiates the anti-tumor effects of cisplatin to
resolve ATM-deficient non-small cell lung cancer in
vivo. Oncotarget, 6(42), 44289.

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