An innovative method of categorizing myosin—one of three molecular “motors” that produce movement within the cells of the body—has dramatically increased the amount of information available about these essential proteins. The studies lay the groundwork for development of treatments for conditions ranging from certain kinds of blindness and kidney disease to neurodegenerative disorders and parasitic diseases such as malaria.
All complex organisms use myosin and its relatives, kinesin and dynein, to move substances around inside cells and to help cells move from one place to the other. Myosins also help parasites enter and infect hosts. Defects in the motors play a role in a variety of human and animal disorders, including retinitis pigmentosa (which causes blindness), polycystic kidney disease, brain development defects, neurodegenerative diseases, muscular dystrophy, skin pigmentation problems, and genetic hearing loss.
Researchers led by Dominique Soldati, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) international research scholar at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, have developed a new system of classifying myosins. Up to now, researchers have only studied approximately 130 myosins at a time. The new system includes 250 myosins and increases the number of myosin subclasses from 18 to 24, enabling researchers to better understand each myosins function.
Cindy Fox Aisen | EurekAlert!
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