Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nano-Motor with a Light Switch

10.05.2011
Light-triggered myosin allows real-time study of cells

Molecular “motors” are at the root of most biological movement. They propel cell components, whole cells, and even our muscles on command. Barbara Imperiali and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, USA), the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, USA), and the National Institutes of Health (USA) have now provided the motor protein myosin with an “on switch” that is activated by light. As the scientists report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, this should make it possible to follow cellular processes that involve myosin in real time.

In order for our muscles to contract, two types of fibrous proteins, myosin and actin, must interact. Driven by splitting of the cellular fuel adenosine triphosphate (ATP), “buttons” on the myosin molecules attach, allowing the myosin to dangle off of the actin filaments. In non-muscular cells, myosin ensures that the cell constricts itself in the division process. Myosin consists of several different protein chains. The activity of non-muscular myosin is regulated through its regulatory light chain. As soon as a phosphate group binds to a specific site (Ser19) of the light chain (phosphorylation), myosin become active. The activity can be amplified through binding of a second phosphate group at a neighboring site (Thr18).

Myosin has been intensively studied. However, it has not been possible to examine precisely what happens after activation of the molecule in living cells both spatially and over time. This research team has now found a trick that makes real-time observations possible: A myosin molecule that can be switched on by light. To achieve this, the researchers used protein synthesis to produce a synthetic regulatory chain that already contains one or two phosphate groups. The trick is that one of the phosphate groups is covered by a cage. In this form, the chain is inactive. Irradiation with light makes the cage split off, switching on the regulatory chain and activating the myosin.

The researchers replaced the natural light chain in myosin molecules with their synthetic one and introduced this light-activated myosin into cells.

Irradiation activates it at a defined time in a defined place. In this way, the researchers hope to observe what happens after the activation of myosin in a cell in real time.

Author: Barbara Imperiali, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (USA), http://web.mit.edu/imperiali
Title: Light-Triggered Myosin Activation for Probing Dynamic Cellular Processes
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201100674

Barbara Imperiali | Angewandte Chemie
Further information:
http://web.mit.edu/imperiali
http://pressroom.angewandte.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>