Myosin VI (blue) is a molecular motor that walks "backwards" on filaments of actin (red). By labeling a myosin VI on the head (green), or on the neck (red), and localizing the dye within a few nanometers, scientists determined that myosin walks "hand-over-hand," while causing a part of the protein to come undone. Graphic courtesy Paul Selvin
In the human body, hundreds of different types of biomolecular motors help carry out such essential tasks as muscle contraction, moving chromosomes during cell division, and reloading nerve cells so they can repeatedly fire.
How these little proteins perform their duties is becoming clearer to scientists using an extremely sensitive measurement technique. Myosin VI, they found, moves by the same “hand-over-hand” mechanism as two other molecular motors, myosin V and kinesin.
“Now that a third molecular motor has been found to move in the same hand-over-hand fashion, the argument for a rival ‘inchworm’ motion is getting pretty weak,” said Paul Selvin, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-author of a paper to appear in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
James E. Kloeppel | University of Illinois
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