2020, Watercolor and Ink on Paper
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines developed for the COVID-19 pandemic are composed of long strands of RNA (magenta) that encode the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface glycoprotein enclosed in lipids (blue) that deliver the RNA into cells. Several different types of lipids are used, including familar lipids, cholesterol, ionizable lipids that interact with RNA, and lipids connected to polyethylene glycol chains (green) that help shield the vaccine from the immune system, lengthening its lifetime following administration. In this idealized illustration, all of the lipids are arranged in a simple circular bilayer that surrounds the mRNA and the PEG strands have both extended and folded conformations. In reality, the structure may be less regular. Learn more about how this vaccine works in Resources to Fight the COVID-19 Pandemic at the RCSB Protein Data Bank.
A full-size file is available under creative commons at the RCSB Protein Data Bank at doi: 10.2210/rcsb_pdb/goodsell-gallery-027