top of page

Love is in my DNA - Oxytocin

This piece of SangerArt was created to coincide with Valentines Day 2019. It is called "Love is in my DNA - Oxytocin".

As Valentine’s Day was approaching I thought there must be a Dan's DNA design I could put together to celebrate this day. It didn’t take me long to come up with the perfect gene sequence.


The SangerArtwork shows a Sanger DNA sequence chromatogram for the OXT gene on human chromosome 20 with a heart embedded into the sequence.

The OXT gene encodes the peptide hormone oxytocin - sometimes referred to as the love hormone or cuddle hormone. In gene terms OXT is very small - only 898 base pairs long and made of 3 exons. The coding sequence is 378 bases long producing a protein of 126 amino acids when translated. This protein is known as a prepropeptide and like many hormones oxytocin is made as a larger precursor that is cut into smaller pieces to produce the active hormone that is only 9 amino acids long. Interestingly the same gene also encodes neurophysin 1 a larger 94 amino acid protein that carries oxytocin from the site of synthesis in the hypothalamus to the posterior pituitary where it is released into the blood.

So why is it called the love hormone? Well it is most well known for its role in childbirth, causing contractions and is often used as a drug to induce labour. It is also released during breast feeding and helps in the bonding between mother a child. Research suggests that it is also released during sex and is at higher levels in people in the first stages of romantic love. It also appears to play a role in emotion and social interactions, reducing stress and anxiety, while promoting relaxation and trust, helping people to bond socially.

The artwork is smaller than the original SangerArtworks I created. It is made up of only 898 bases of Sanger DNA sequence chromatogram with the image of a red heart embedded into it. There are 9 rows of sequence at 100 bases across, designed to be printed at a size of around 8x8 in or 20x20 cm.

This artwork is designed to be viewed both closeup - to reveal the DNA sequence, and far away - to reveal the image. The origin of the sequence (bases 1 to 898) is shown in the bottom right corner - human genome version 38 - chromosome 20 - from base 3071620 to 3072517. The OXT gene (the part that is transcribed into RNA) covers this entire sequence, the transcript ID being NM_000915.

It is available both with and without the caption at the top in a number of different formats from Society6, Spreadshirt and Redbubble using the links below.

Society6 with caption

Society6 without caption

Spreadshirt (USA/Australia) with caption

Spreadshirt (USA/Australia) without caption

Spreadshirt (Europe) with caption

Spreadshirt (Europe) without caption

Redbubble without caption

OXT gene design v3_2000px.jpg
OXT gene design_2000px.jpg
bottom of page