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Skin; Lets Break It Down

By Christopher Smith

Hello reader, I hope that you’re well,

And that you have a few moments to dwell,

To learn about my Post Doc project,

And to rhyming you don’t object!

My research focuses on a specific gene,

Over several verses I’ll paint the scene,

Of how mutations in its coding,

Can cause symptoms rather foreboding.

SGPL1 is the gene this poem is about,

Its expression can be found in the body throughout,

It functions to breakdown lipids, which make up fat.

But let’s look more closely, at what’s this, and what’s that.

Now lipids play an essential role,

In signalling, support and keeping cells whole,

They’re an integral part of a cell membrane,

Where they help cells to take the strain.

However, when SGPL1 is on the blink,

Cortisol production can indeed shrink,

This hormone regulates blood sugar and pressure,

The process is complex, like a painting by Escher.

This lack of cortisol production efficiency,

Is termed ‘Primary Adrenal Insufficiency’,

It’s caused by multiple genes we could address,

So for further explanation, let me digress.

Cortisol is produced by the adrenal gland,

It’s production under the hypothalamus command,

MC2R, MRAP and STAR genes too,

All cause the disease, to name a few.

But let’s get back to SGPL1,

Because, when all said and done,

That is what my research is about,

And the story that I shall tout.

So now for a bit of background,

Adrenal insufficiency was how our gene was found,

But my interest for the gene lies in skin,

And this is where my research will begin.

Mutations in this gene cause ichthyosis,

A disease of skin with a poor prognosis,

It results in breakdown of the skin structure,

Bringing the patient no sense of fructure.

Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s fructure’s definition?

Well, it means when things come to fruition,

I know it’s an obscure word, is fructure,

But it’s rather difficult to rhyme with structure.

Imagine the skin barrier as a wall,

Made up of bricks and mortar and all,

In this metaphor our skin cells are the bricks,

While lipids act as the glue-like fix.

The lipid mortar exists in finely balanced proportion,

Of which lipid misregulation can cause great distortion,

If there is a mutation in SGPL1,

The protective barrier of skin can be undone.

To understand the mechanism behind this defect,

I’ve mutated skin cells to the same effect,

Then I can explore how a mutation carrier,

Can lose so much of their skin barrier.

I replicate skin using 3D organoids,

Analysing proteins, lipids and glucocorticoids,

Using these models, we can assess,

Important proteins by the way they fluoresce.

Furthermore, we can then test,

Which cell pathways are distressed,

This will hopefully give us the key,

For why skin is damaged to such a degree.

Therefore I thank you all for your time,

To read this little poem of mine,

I hope you’ve enjoyed what has been,

A whirlwind tour of this disease of skin.


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