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Metabolomic Eye

Metabolomic Eye 72dpi

This image is one of my favorite scientific visualizations and it makes for a great large scale print.  This image only exists in computational space and represents a glancing section of real retina from a mus musculus probed with antibodies to three small molecular labels from Signature Immunologics.  Anti-taurine, anti-glutamine and anti-glutamate assigned to red, green and blue color channels respectively.  This image shows two fundamentally important things about metabolomics: 1) Diversity of metabolomic signatures across cell classes is extensive and in this case, it shows how complex the retina is.  2) Within cell classes, metabolomic envelopes are very narrowly constrained in healthy tissue.  Pathology is another issue for another time…

You can download a larger sized image here. Note: all copyright applies.

This image was analyzed using tools called Computational Molecular Phenotyping (CMP) that reveal the metabolic state of the all cell types in tissues.

The whole point behind CMP is that we can do this in N-space or use N labels to look at co-segregation of small molecular signals. We commonly look at 7-12 probes at once for instance, but they are difficult to show in traditional rgb images.  The use of advanced clustering approaches is important because with the image above, we had 9 separate probes that we used on this dataset.  That means, according to this formula (n+r-1)!/r!(n-1)!, there are 165 different ways to combine probes into 3 color datasets for visualization.  With 12 separate probes, that is 364 different combinations and 24 separate probes opens this up to 2,600 different potential 3-color combinations.

The individual labeled images are below in grayscale along with a couple of two color composites. Note that these are just 3 color images.












Taurine in red, Glutamine in green.




Taurine in red, glutamate in blue.


Categories: Art of Science, Science.

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7 Responses

  1. I am a photographer as well and I have blind family members I appreciate your work on both fronts. While I don’t understand scientifically what’s up with this image it’s very cool non the less. I bookmarked your blog. Thank you

    • Thanks Scott,

      Hopefully there will be many more images like this to come in the future and I guarantee that we’ll continue to work as hard and as passionately as we can to further our efforts to find a cure for blindness.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] to our connectomics work, exploring how the retina is wired together.  This Metabolomic Eye image originally appeared here on Jonesblog with some explanation of the image and the science.  It then won the Science/NSF Visualization Challenge here and ended up on display in the Dulles […]

  2. […] Metabolomic Eye image has been featured in the NIH Audacious Goals Initiative brochure that is being distributed to […]

  3. […] Metabolomic Eye image has now been featured on Science Friday as the Picture of the Week.  Science Friday is one […]

  4. […] Image Credit: Bryan William Jones, Ph.D. […]

  5. […] impaired community.  The separate images shown above have been shown before and can be seen here (metabolomic retina), here (goldfish retina), here (classified retina), here (visual cortex neuron), and here (neuron […]