Congrats to the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine!

I made this quick little illustration after being inspired by yesterday's Nobel Prize announcement. What I love about nature's solution to oxygen sensing is that we make a protein nonstop just to promptly and unceremoniously destroy it, trading this apparent wastefulness for the opportunity to react at a moment's notice to a lack of oxygen. This makes sense considering that oxygen is, obviously, crucial for life. So when oxygen is abundant, an oxygen-containing tag is added to HIP1alpha, which triggers VHL to target it for destruction. When oxygen levels drop, the tag cannot be added and so VHL doesn’t recognize it. HIP1alpha then stealthily travels to the nucleus where it turns on genes that effectively sound the alarm bells, increasing red blood cell production and more. Many thanks and congratulations to Dr. Kaelin, Dr. Ratcliffe and Dr. Semenza for uncovering nature's exquisite solution to responding to a lack of oxygen.

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