Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research team reconstructs motor-cargo complex for ciliary transport: How to start a nanomotor?

05.07.2018

Most people have never heard of them, and yet every living being needs them to survive: fine protrusions of cells known as cilia. They allow sperm to move, form fine protective hairs in the lungs and play a crucial role in the differentiation of organs in embryos. A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now reconstructed the protein complex responsible for transport within cilia, which plays a decisive role in their functioning.

Flagellates need them to move, roundworms to find food, and sperm to move towards the egg: cilia. These excrescences of eukaryotic cells even ensure that the human heart ends up in the right place – cilia control the organ development of the growing fetus. "This Multifunctionality is absolutely fascinating," says Dr. Zeynep Ökten, biophysicist in the Physics Department of the Technical University of Munich.


Motor proteins (green dots) move along microtubules like on a highway.

Image: G. Merck / TUM


Dr. Zeynep Ökten and co-author Willi L. Stepp at the fluorescence-microscope.

Image: A. Battenberg / TUM

Only in recent years the significance of cilia for signal transduction has been recognized. "To date, we know very little about which biochemical processes control the various functions. This makes understanding the basic mechanisms even more important,” emphasizes the scientist.

Green dots in the focus

The scientist holds a glass plate with thin, liquid-filled capillaries up to the light. There is not much to see – merely a clear and transparent liquid. Only under a fluorescence microscope does the movement of compounds marked with dye become visible: green dots, all striving in one direction.

As if on a highway, the transport proteins migrate along the thin channels of the cilia. But just how these engines are started up, remained a mystery until now. That is why Zeynep Ökten and her team decided to reconstruct the protein complex.

Bottom-up instead of top-down

The building blocks of the protein complex stem from the model organism of the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode. It uses its cilia to find food and detect hazards. The biologists have already identified dozens of proteins that affect the function of nematode cilia.

"Here, the classical top-down approach reaches its limits because too many building blocks are involved," explains Ökten. "To understand the intra-flagellar transport, IFT for short, we thus took the opposite approach, studying individual proteins and their interactions from the bottom up.”
The needle in a protein haystack

The work resembled the proverbial search for the needle in a haystack. A variety of molecular compounds came into question. After months of experimentation, the researchers stumbled upon a minimal combination of four proteins. As soon as these proteins fuse into a complex, they begin migrating through the capillaries of the sample carrier.

"When we saw the images of the fluorescence microscope, we immediately knew: Now we have found the parts of the puzzle that start the engine," recalls Ökten. "If just one of these components is missing, due to a genetic defect, for example, the machinery will fail – which, because of the cilia’s importance, is reflected in a long list of serious diseases."

Publication:

Mohamed A. A. Mohamed, Willi L. Stepp and Zeynep Ökten
Reconstitution reveals motor activation for intraflagellar transport
Nature, vol. 557, p 387–391 (2018) – DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0105-3
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0105-3

Further information:

The work was funded by the European Research Council and the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the Cluster of Excellence Munich Center for Integrated Protein Science (CIPSM).

Contact:

Dr. Zeynep Ökten
Department of Physics, E22
Technical University of Munich
James-Franck-Str. 1, 85748 Garching
Tel.: +49 89 289 12885 – E-Mail: zoekten@ph.tum.de
Web: http://bio.ph.tum.de/home/dr-oekten/oekten-home.html

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/detail/article/34794/ Link to the press release
https://mediatum.ub.tum.de/652209?show_id=1447277 Video Motor proteins

Dr. Ulrich Marsch | Technische Universität München

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Phagocytes versus killer cells - A closer look into the tumour tissue
21.10.2019 | Universität Duisburg-Essen

nachricht How intestinal cells renew themselves – the role of Klumpfuss in cell differentiation
21.10.2019 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers

A very special kind of light is emitted by tungsten diselenide layers. The reason for this has been unclear. Now an explanation has been found at TU Wien (Vienna)

It is an exotic phenomenon that nobody was able to explain for years: when energy is supplied to a thin layer of the material tungsten diselenide, it begins to...

Im Focus: An ultrafast glimpse of the photochemistry of the atmosphere

Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich have explored the initial consequences of the interaction of light with molecules on the surface of nanoscopic aerosols.

The nanocosmos is constantly in motion. All natural processes are ultimately determined by the interplay between radiation and matter. Light strikes particles...

Im Focus: Shaping nanoparticles for improved quantum information technology

Particles that are mere nanometers in size are at the forefront of scientific research today. They come in many different shapes: rods, spheres, cubes, vesicles, S-shaped worms and even donut-like rings. What makes them worthy of scientific study is that, being so tiny, they exhibit quantum mechanical properties not possible with larger objects.

Researchers at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE's Argonne National...

Im Focus: Novel Material for Shipbuilding

A new research project at the TH Mittelhessen focusses on the development of a novel light weight design concept for leisure boats and yachts. Professor Stephan Marzi from the THM Institute of Mechanics and Materials collaborates with Krake Catamarane, which is a shipyard located in Apolda, Thuringia.

The project is set up in an international cooperation with Professor Anders Biel from Karlstad University in Sweden and the Swedish company Lamera from...

Im Focus: Controlling superconducting regions within an exotic metal

Superconductivity has fascinated scientists for many years since it offers the potential to revolutionize current technologies. Materials only become superconductors - meaning that electrons can travel in them with no resistance - at very low temperatures. These days, this unique zero resistance superconductivity is commonly found in a number of technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Future technologies, however, will harness the total synchrony of electronic behavior in superconductors - a property called the phase. There is currently a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Symposium on Functional Materials for Electrolysis, Fuel Cells and Metal-Air Batteries

02.10.2019 | Event News

NEXUS 2020: Relationships Between Architecture and Mathematics

02.10.2019 | Event News

Optical Technologies: International Symposium „Future Optics“ in Hannover

19.09.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fraunhofer LBF and BAM develop faster procedure for flame-retardant plastics

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

For EVs with higher range: Take greater advantage of the potential offered by lightweight construction materials

21.10.2019 | Materials Sciences

Benefit and risk: Meta-analysis draws a heterogeneous picture of drug-coated balloon angioplasty

21.10.2019 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>