Molecular motors, the little engines that power cell mobility and the ability of cells to transport internal cargo, work together and in close coordination, according to a new finding by researchers at the University of Virginia. The work could have implications for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
"We found that molecular motors operate in an amazingly coordinated manner when moving an algal cell one way or the other," said Jeneva Laib, the lead author and an undergraduate biomedical engineering student at the University of Virginia. "This provides a new understanding of the ways cells move."
The finding appears online in the current issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Laib, a second-year student from Lorton, Va., and her collaborators, U.Va. professors Robert Bloodgood and William Guilford, used the alga Chlamydomonas as a model to study how molecular motors in most types of cells work to move internal cargo, such as organelles associated with energy production and nutrient transport, or even the entire cell.
These motions are caused by a line of motors that pull the cell along, like the locomotive on a train. Previous studies had suggested that these motors pulled in opposite directions, like a game of tug of war. More recent studies indicated that the motors were working together rather than independently.
The new U.Va. study provides strong evidence that the motors are indeed working in coordination, all pulling in one direction, as if under command, or in the opposite direction — again, as if under strict instruction.
"We've found that large numbers of these molecular motors are turning on at the same time to generate large amounts of force, and then turning off at the same time to allow transport in the particular direction," said Guilford, Laib's adviser and lab director. "This insight opens up the possibility for us to begin to understand the mechanism that instructs the motors to pull one way or the other."
A greater understanding of cell motility and the ways in which cells move cargo within cells could eventually lead to therapies for neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), diabetic neuropathy, and Usher syndrome, a progressive loss of hearing and vision. Neurodegenerative diseases can be caused by defects in the transport processes within neural cells.
"You basically get a logjam within the cell that prevents forward progress of these motors and their cargo," Guilford said. "So if we could understand how the motors are normally coordinated inside cells, we might be able to eventually realize therapeutic approaches to restoring transport for cell revival."
"There is some amazing cooperation going on among these motors," noted Bloodgood, a specialist in cell locomotion research. "When one set of as many as 10 motors turn on, another set turns off in unison. Understanding this process could help us to restore this locomotion when defects occur."
Guilford noted that the study is an example of high-level research conducted by undergraduate students.
"Jeneva's work, published in a first-rate journal, shows that highly motivated and exceptionally bright young students can accomplish outstanding research well before graduate school."
Fariss Samarrai | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis > Cells > Chlamydomonas > Lou Gehrig's Disease > Molecular Target > Usher syndrome > algal cell > biomedical engineering > cell mobility > diabetic neuropathy > energy production > molecular motor > neural cells > neurodegenerative disorder > nutrient transport
Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.
The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...
UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration
"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...
Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.
Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
16.01.2017 | Information Technology
16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering