TATA box tees
"I wish I were a DNA helicase so I could unzip your genes."

Scientifically accurate and anatomically correct shirts.

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The science behind the shirt

“The process by which biological molecules are broken down and resynthesized form a complex, yet highly regulated network of interdependent enzymatic reactions that are collectively known as life.”

Fundamentals of Biochemistry, Chapter 13 Introduction to Metabolism by Voet, Voet and Pratt


From a biochemical perspective, we are macromolecular structures operating in a steady state removed from equilibrium. DNA contains the information necessary to synthesize a living organism. Many events need to occur to get from inert DNA to dynamic life form. DNA is transcribed into RNA which is then translated into protein. Proteins are the basic building blocks of life. They perform structural functions and enzymatic reactions that establish and maintain life.

TATA box

Transcription is the process by which DNA is converted to RNA by RNA polymerase. For transcription to begin, the transcription initation complex must assemble at promoter. The TATA box is a sequence located at -35 from the start site. TATA binding protein (TBP) binds to the TATA box.

DNA helicase

TBP then binds to transcription factors TFIIB, TFIID, TFIIE, and TFIIF. TF stands for transcription factor. II is because these factors are responsible for recruiting RNA polymerase II (RNAP II). RNAPII is the polymerase used to transcribe the protein-producing mRNA. In order for the RNA PII to get access the DNA template, the DNA must first be unwound. The protein that does this is DNA helicase, in this case TFIIH.

Anatomical correctness

In case you didn’t see it the first time, the shirt is anatomically correct as well as scientifically accurate, because the TATA box is positioned directly over the wearer’s right breast, or TATA.


http://www.fbs.osaka-u.ac.jp/eng/labo/04a.html was useful in assembling the diagram.

For a more detailed treatise on this subject, check out Section 10.6 of Molecular Cell Biology by Lodish, Berk or any other molecular biology text. Portions of some textbooks are available for free on NCBI Bookshelf.

tatabox@freeshell.org Updated December 13, 2008

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