Molecular motor structural changes imaged

Sep 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: Sheep flock to Eiffel Tower as French farmers cry wolf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Snakes in evolutionary arms race with poisonous newt

Nov 17, 2014

The rough-skinned newt is easily one of the most toxic animals on the planet, yet the common garter snake routinely eats it. How does a newt which produces enough toxin to kill several grown humans almost ...

New functions for chromatin remodelers

Aug 28, 2014

Large molecular motors consisting of up to a dozen different proteins regulate access to the genome, which is essential for the transcription of genes and for the repair of DNA damage. Susan Gasser and her ...

Recommended for you

Genomes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes sequenced

2 hours ago

Nora Besansky, O'Hara Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a member of the University's Eck Institute for Global Health, has led an international team of scientists in sequencing ...

Bitter food but good medicine from cucumber genetics

2 hours ago

High-tech genomics and traditional Chinese medicine come together as researchers identify the genes responsible for the intense bitter taste of wild cucumbers. Taming this bitterness made cucumber, pumpkin ...

New button mushroom varieties need better protection

6 hours ago

A working group has recently been formed to work on a better protection of button mushroom varieties. It's activities are firstly directed to generate consensus among the spawn/breeding companies to consider ...

User comments : 0

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.