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Captions and description

[Music plays and a lady dressed in white dances on the grass]

At the beginning, there is a happy cell. It grows and divides, creating its exact copy. The copy can differentiate and specialise and communicate through cell signalling. From time to time, the cells acquire mutations. Most mutations are harmless, but some are deleterious turning a happy healthy cell into a cancer cell.

[Music changes to a darker mood and a dancer is now dressed in black attacking the dancer in white]

Such a cancer cell can start quickly proliferating. But what makes them so dangerous? That it is not one disease, but many and each has different weapons. This tumour can grow more blood vessels and gain more energy. 

[The dancer dressed in white escapes into a room away from the dancer in black]

Our happy cell got lucky this time…

[The dancer in black enters the room and shuts the windows, suffocating the dancer in white. The dancer in black has an oxygen mask that means he can still breathe.]

This one can cope with little oxygen.

So all these weapons are just a result of mutations? Well, often. But there are also other reasons, such as epigenetics. So what happens in these cells? What are the mutations and epigenetics?

[Scene changes to the inside of a building with a modern wooden staircase and upbeat music. Letters of the DNA are hung going down the staircase. The complementary letters of RNA are pinned by a new dancer onto a piece of fabric underneath and this fabric is taken to white box on a rooftop terrace to be translated into protein.]

Inside each cell, there is a molecule called DNA. Genes in DNA are copied to mRNA, mRNA is transported out of the nucleus and translated into a protein. Proteins interact with one another.

[Two dancers representing proteins perform a latin-themed dance on a rooftop terrace. The scene cuts back to the staircase, with letter C’s being modified with methylation or hydroxymethylation.]

Some bases in the DNA can be modified, forming 5mC or 5hmC. In cancer, many modifications are displaced. The modifications can regulate which genes will be transcribed and which not.

[Scene cuts back to the dancers on the rooftop, with only one remaining trying to dance on her own.]

When one of the proteins is missing, the interaction is not possible.

The bases can mutate. Is there a link between DNA modifications and mutations? Yes, there is…

And we found that positions with 5mC but not 5hmC are very frequently mutated. These mutations are then copied to the mRNA. The mutations in genes can affect the structures of the proteins.

[On the rooftop, the male latin dancer has transformed into a ballroom dancer and struggles to dance with the latin dancer.]

Then the interactions may not work. Or even different interactions may happen. Such abnormal protein behaviour can form the basis of the cancer weapons.

[A second ballroom dancer appears and dances instead with male ballroom dancer, leaving the latin dancer all alone.]

So what can we do with that? We need to know what happens on the level of DNA mutations and modifications to understand the weapons. We can then put scientific results from different parts of the world together.

[A dancer dressed in white representing SCIENCE performs Capoeira on the grass]

And use the knowledge of the weapons to defeat the cancer cells.

[Cuts back to the scene in the closed-windowed room. The SCIENCE dancer removes the cancer cell’s oxygen mask, opens the window to let the healthy cell escape. A fight on the grass ensues, culminating in the SCIENCE dancer getting out his laptop and coding]


Permission denied

sudo ./

[The cancer cell is still attacking]

sudo ./

[The cancer cell kills itself]

The end.


Markéta Tomková – normal cell, transport of mRNA, protein, director, choreographer, scriptwriter, editor, visual effects, music, etc. 😊

Jakub Tomek – cancer cell, choreographer of martial arts, assistant director, visual effects assistant, a fountain of ideas 😉

Benjamin Schuster-Böckler – science, choreographer of capoeira, thesis supervisor.

Citlali Solis Salas – cancer cell, RNA polymerase, assistant director, hair stylist, location scout 😉

Laura Catchpole and Cameron Wishart – proteins, choreographers of protein dance.

Chico Camargo – cancer cell, DNA methyltransferase, camera operator, good mood manager.

Marion Schüller – cancer cell, camera operator, property master.

Jose Luis Ramirez Mendiola – cancer cell, Ten-eleven translocation methylcytosine dioxygenase, camera operator, sound operator.

Music credits & special thanks