Short answer: One way, at the molecular level, is to go to pdb.org then type ‘trangenic’ into the search field. Check out results here: trangenicPDB
No worries, I’m really glad you made the meatball joke (and yes, I know and appreciate that it was a joke), but it reminded that most of the world does view these blobs as… blobs, so I just wanted to clarify for any future animators turned science animators the importance of how and why the blobs differ.
As for transgenic- before I go off on a boring rant, most of what I’m about to describe is beautifully visualized and soundtracked by the worlds’ greatest molecular animator Drew Berry and his sound guy Francois Tetaz. DNA packaging starts around 1:20 in the Body Code movie, DNA replication at ~2:55, transcription at 3:50, and translation at 5:10 on the following page. (This leads to an interesting story about a disease, and there are fascinating facts and more details about DNA at 7:45):
Clear throat and start again- As for transgenic- an isolated protein molecule or DNA strand wouldn’t look very interesting at this level- one blob slightly different than another blob, or more of some blob(s) or less of another than there used to be before the gene transfer. DNA looks more or less the same to humans from one gene to the next- just a bunch of Adenines, Thymines, Guanines, and Cytosines strung together in varied orders. Genes are enormous- there are only 24 base pairs in the previous posted image, 3 base pairs code for one amino acid, and a typical protein in your body has several hundred or even thousands of amino acids, plus lots of “junk” DNA in and around the gene. DNA is wrapped about tiny cylinders inside of eukaryotic cells to help keep it organized for easier packaging and to make it inaccessible to “transcription” machinery that initiates the protein production process (See movie above!)
The effects of the “transgene” in the host cell/organism, or phenotype, are the interesting part- e.g., at extremes we have seen green glowing rabbits Alba the glowing bunny or questionably disturbing GMO crops Monsanto. Such phenotypes are the results of genes being added or subtracted, turned on or off, etc., sometimes naturally, sometimes via human manipulation that result in signaling cascades where an otherwise small/subtle event gets amplified multifold. Though genetics are not directly related and far more complex, the best analogy I can think of for this is Drew Berry’s movie showing Signal Transduction leading to cell death that can be triggered by a single signal from the cell surface (much the way a single match can initiate a forest fire)… not a transgenic effect, but a great way to tell a similarly complex and molecularly related story. Apoptosis
Most importantly, this goes a long way towards implying how random stochastic motion amongst objects that bear increased probabilities for interaction (particular arrangements of atoms) as guided by the laws of thermodynamics can lead to complicated outcomes for other molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms.
If you find the above sentence “unbelievable”, check out my Principle Investigator, Art Olson’s amazing tangible model, the self assembling plastic virus
Wow, I should go home instead of vomiting more words all over this thread.