Amino Acid Beads

Amino Acids are the building blocks of every protein in your body. There are 22 unique, natural, and essential amino acids. Each amino acid has different characteristics and a substitution of one for another can change a protein dramatically. This is what scientists call a mutation. Amino acids are assembled in your body by ribosomes. They are the most fundamental building block of life.

Amino acids are known by there full names, their 3 letter abbreviation, and their 1 letter abbreviations. For example, a proline amino acid is known as "Proline", "Pro", or just "P". For our alphabet, we use the one letter abbreviation. Many of customers use this amino acid bead alphabet to spell messages, names, or initials. For instance, the girl above is wearing a necklace that spells "Anna", using the amino acids: Alanine (A) and Asparagine (N)

Our beads are made directly from x-ray crystallographic files downloaded directly from the protein database (PDB). The PDB files are essentially XYZ points in space representing various atoms of an amino acid tertiary sequence. We take the PDB file of the amino acid into commercial 3D modeling software and create a sphere representation for each atom according to their atomic radii. We then bore a hole our of the backbone of the amino acid using a boolean operation. Every amino acid has a common backbone, and this is what the string of a necklace or bracelet represents.

The models of the beads are then exported to a 3D file format and converted into horizontal layers using Z-corp software. These layers are then 3D printed successively upon each other until the full 3D model of the bead has taken its full shape. The model has been scaled from its atomic proportions to beads 1cm to 2cm in length. The scale of our beads is 20 million times actual size. That means that a 2 centimeter long amino acid bead on your necklace actually represents 1 nanometer in real life.

The Amino Acid Beads were designed and manufactured by Graham Johnson and Jon Huntoon in the spring of 2008.

For a comprehensive, printable PDF detailing these creatures, click "creatures".