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: Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

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 ...

Recommended for you

Warming leads to more run-ins with polar bears

50 minutes ago

Word spread quickly: a polar bear, then two, were spotted near this remote Inuit village on the shores of Hudson Bay, about 1,800 kilometers (1,120 miles) north of Montreal.

Japanese scientist resigns over stem cell scandal

1 hour ago

A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on ...

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.