We've seen metabolism maps before, but never one quite so simple to read as this one, designed by Richard Wheeler, an illustrator and Oxford postdoc who researches the cell biology of parasites.
Metabolism encompasses all the chemical reactions necessary for your body to keep running, including turning food into energy and creating amino acids and the chemical bases for DNA. Researchers are especially interested in how these chemical processes interact, as metabolism plays a vital role in disease and how our bodies respond to drug treatments.
Here, the "subway" lines are metabolic pathways, labelled in the box in the bottom right hand corner. The pathways trace how one chemical is transformed into another chemical, catalyzed by a series of enzymes. It's not a comprehensive illustration of every chemical reaction involved in metabolism, but it helps you get the idea.
A great idea in principle but unfortunately I think it is misleading in several respects:
1. There are various typos/misspellings like 'glycoxylate', 'oxy' rather than 'oxo' (n)oyl-CoA and '3-phosopho-D-glycerate'. Maybe not the most important thing but still not helpful in a learning/teaching aid;
2. It is really rather important in learning about the Krebs cycle to understand that citrate (C6)arises by the reaction of acetyl (C2) CoA with oxaloacetate (C4). I don't think the direction of the yellow and black underground lines even hints at that in the way that the usual converging arrows of a traditional metabolic pathways chart do.
3. Fatty acid beta oxidation is totally scrambled. Fatty acids should lead into (n)oyl-CoA as the first station. Then going clockwise the next station should be the trans-(n)-enoyl-CoA (although strictly speaking from a chemist's point of view (n)-enoyl would refer to the position of the double bond, not the total number of carbon atoms. Next should come the 3-hydroxy and then finally the 3-oxo, from which the acetyl-CoA peels off.
4. Finally, and this is a point that may not be easy to deal with on an underground map, it leaves the passenger rushing round the metabolic underground to no good purpose ( which is exactly how a lot of confused students do see metabolism! ). Everything is really directed to the production or the use of reducing equivalents (NADH, NADPH FADHs) and ATP. It is a pity that these crucial 'destinations' don't figure.
An article from http://superhuman.ly/ brought me here. Although I don't recognize most of the chemical names, this illustration is still pretty cool!
Paul, that last point isn't totally true, though - amino acids, purines, pyrimidines, fatty acids, terpenes, starches, etc. are perfectly good destinations in and of themselves, as they're required for growth and cell division. I agree that marking ATP-generating and electron-carrier-filling reactions would be an excellent addition though.