Molecular motor structural changes imaged

September 14, 2006

A U.S.-led international team of researchers has shed new light on how tiny molecular motors that transport materials within cells generate energy.

The scientists say their findings might lead to better understanding of, and possibly new treatments for, human disorders caused by faulty molecular motors.

Biologists had previously been unable to capture images of the structural changes that a molecular motor undergoes as it breaks down adenosine triphosphate, the source of energy in all cells.

"In order to visualize the actual structure of the motor molecule bound to a microtubule, we combined the images generated by high-resolution electron microscopy," said study investigator Sharyn Endow, a Duke University cell biologist.

"We were able to see for the first time the actual point at which the molecular motors attach to the microtubule," said Endow. "It is at this juncture that the motor undergoes changes in its structure as it uses ATP to propel itself along the microtubule."

The researchers also included scientists from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, and the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the United Kingdom.

The study is reported in the journal Molecular Cell.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Sensory feedback shapes individuality to provide equal space for behavioral excellence

Related Stories

Tracking nanowalkers with light

September 25, 2015

Nanotechnology is taking its first steps. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart have developed a gold nanocylinder equipped with discrete DNA strands as 'feet' that can walk across ...

Formation of swarms in nanosystems

August 18, 2015

One of the striking features of self-organization in biomolecular systems is the capacity of assemblies of filamentous particles for synchronous motion. Physicists of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich now provide new ...

Recommended for you

Building a better liposome

October 13, 2015

Using computational modeling, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the Colorado School of Mines and the University of California, Davis have come up with a design for a better liposome. Their findings, while theoretical, ...

Team extends the lifetime of atoms using a mirror

October 13, 2015

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in an experiment where they get an artificial atom to survive ten times longer than normal by positioning the atom in front of a mirror. The findings were recently ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.