Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Speedy couriers in the cell

"Optical tweezers"
"Optical tweezers"

Abstract:
Why motor proteins have brakes

Speedy couriers in the cell

Germany | Posted on May 24th, 2010

Every single one of our cells contains so-called motor proteins that transport important substances from one location to another. However, very little is known about how exactly these transport processes occur. Biophysicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and Ludwig Maximilians Universitaet Muenchen (LMU) have now succeeded in explaining fundamental functions of a particularly interesting motor protein. They report their findings in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA).

Motorized transport proteins are one of the keys to the development of higher organisms. It is they that enable the cell to transport important substances directly and quickly to a specific location in the cell. As bacteria cannot do this, they are not able to form larger cells or even large organisms with many cells. Particularly important are fast transport proteins in the primary cilia, the cell's antennas, with which they channel information from the surroundings into the cell.

Like trucks on a highway, kinesins transport cellular loads to their destinations. They do this by crawling along protein fibers, so-called microtubules, which extend through the entire cell. Kinesins consist of two long intertwined protein chains. At one end of every protein there is a head that can attach itself to certain structures on the surface of the microtubules; the freight is attached to the other end.

Very special kinesins are at work in the cilia of the Caenorhabditis elegans nematode: they consist of two different protein chains and are therefore especially suitable for investigating the transport mechanisms. As freight, the researchers attached small plastic beads to the ends of these motor proteins. They can manipulate these beads with "optical tweezers," a specially formed laser beam.

One end of the protein molecule was held with the optical tweezers; the other was able to walk on microtubules. This enabled the scientists to measure the force with which the motor protein can pull. In this experimental setup, the kinesin-2 with its freight walks as far as 1,500 nanometers in tiny steps measuring a mere eight nanometers. "If we didn't hold it back, it might still go a lot further," says Zeynep Ökten from the Institute for Cell Biology at LMU.

The kinesin-2 investigated consists of one KLP11 and one KLP20 protein. By exchanging the heads of the chains, the researchers were able to show that KLP11 is a non-processive motor protein. It only becomes a transport protein in combination with KLP20. In further experiments they were able to explain why nature chooses this unusual combination: KLP20 proteins have no "brakes." A transport protein made of two KLP20 units would be permanently on the go and would waste energy. The KLP11, in contrast, has a mechanism called autoinhibition, which makes sure that the transport protein is at a standstill if no freight is attached.

"Our results show that a molecular motor must take on a large number of functions over and above simple transport, if it wants to operate successfully in a cell," says Professor Matthias Rief from the Physics Department of the TU Muenchen. It must be possible to switch the motor on and off, and it must be able to accept a load needed at a specific location and hand it over at the destination. "It is impressive how nature manages to combine all of these functions in one molecule," Rief says. "In this respect it is still far superior to all the efforts of modern nanotechnology and serves as a great example to us all."

This work was supported by funds from the Cluster of Excellence Center for Integrated Protein Science Munich (CIPSM), a Long Term European Molecular Biology Organization fellowship and grants from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Friedrich-Baur-Stiftung.

Original Publication:

Regulation of a heterodimeric kinesin-2 through an unprocessive motor domain that is turned processive by its partner,
Melanie Brunnbauer, Felix Mueller-Planitz, Süleyman Kösem, Thi-Hieu Hoa, Renate Dombi, J. Christof M. Gebhardt, Matthias Rief, and Zeynep Ökten
PNAS Early Edition, May 17, 2010 - www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1005177107

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Prof. Matthias Rief
Chair for Experimental Physics (E 22)
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
James-Franck-Str. 1, 85748
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 289 12471
Fax: +49 89 289 12523

Copyright © Technische Universitaet Muenchen

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Analog DNA circuit does math in a test tube: DNA computers could one day be programmed to diagnose and treat disease August 25th, 2016

New approach to determining how atoms are arranged in materials August 25th, 2016

Johns Hopkins scientists track metabolic pathways to find drug combination for pancreatic cancer August 25th, 2016

New electrical energy storage material shows its power: Nanomaterial combines attributes of both batteries and supercapacitors August 25th, 2016

Academic/Education

AIM Photonics Announces Release of Process Design Kit (PDK) for Integrated Silicon Photonics Design August 25th, 2016

Nanotech Security Featured by Simon Fraser University: Company's Anti-Counterfeiting Technology Developed With the Help of University's 4D LABS Materials Research Institute August 21st, 2016

W.M. Keck Foundation awards Cal State LA a $375,000 research and education grant August 4th, 2016

Thomas Swan and NGI announce unique partnership July 28th, 2016

Molecular Machines

Legions of nanorobots target cancerous tumors with precision: Administering anti-cancer drugs redefined August 16th, 2016

New remote-controlled microrobots for medical operations July 23rd, 2016

Pushing a single-molecule switch: An international team of researchers from Donostia International Physics Center, Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society, University of Liverpool, and the Polish Academy of Sciences has shown a new way to operate a single-molecule switch July 19th, 2016

Researchers harness DNA as the engine of super-efficient nanomachine: New platform detects traces of everything from bacteria to viruses, cocaine and metals July 10th, 2016

Announcements

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas: Greater control affords 'in-plane' transmission of waves at or near visible light August 27th, 2016

Forces of nature: Interview with microscopy innovators Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber August 26th, 2016

A promising route to the scalable production of highly crystalline graphene films August 26th, 2016

Graphene under pressure August 26th, 2016

Tools

Nanofiber scaffolds demonstrate new features in the behavior of stem and cancer cells August 25th, 2016

50 years after the release of the film 'Fantastic Voyage,' science upstages fiction: Science upstages fiction with nanorobotic agents designed to travel in the human body to treat cancer August 25th, 2016

University of Puerto Rico and NASA back in the news – XEI reports August 23rd, 2016

Spider silk: Mother Nature's bio-superlens August 22nd, 2016

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Silicon nanoparticles trained to juggle light: Research findings prove the capabilities of silicon nanoparticles for flexible data processing in optical communication systems August 25th, 2016

AIM Photonics Announces Release of Process Design Kit (PDK) for Integrated Silicon Photonics Design August 25th, 2016

New theory could lead to new generation of energy friendly optoelectronics: Researchers at Queen's University Belfast and ETH Zurich, Switzerland, have created a new theoretical framework which could help physicists and device engineers design better optoelectronics August 23rd, 2016

Hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors enable cost-effective detection of neutron signals: Texas Tech University researchers demonstrate hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors as a cost-effective alternative for inspecting overseas cargo containers entering US ports August 17th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic