cellular motors carefully studied (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Saturday, November 10, 2018, 00:30 (133 days ago) @ dhw

An interesting interview with someone who is studying the automatic reactions and responses of cell molecules


“'The design of biological motors can be classified by cataloging the motor’s general structural features, fuel type, stepping distance, stall force, and other mechanical parameters. Detailed measurements of the motility cycles and underlying mechanisms for motility also provide information about how these mechanisms work. Ultimately ‘sequencing’ the mechanome will lead to the discovery of the design features of biological motors in general, enabling us to catalogue them and outline the rules that govern their behavior.”


"I think Matt had an important insight that if we measure the forces and displacements of proteins under forces, we may be able to decipher the design principle of molecular machines. If you think about all the proteins that sense or respond to forces, one can argue that in principle all proteins are sensitive to forces. This is because proteins are folded into three-dimensional structures by non-covalent interactions. And if you apply a force by grabbing onto a single molecule and extend it, the protein will unfold. So by their nature, all proteins are sensitive to forces.

"The key thing the field is trying to understand now is that if a force is applied, how does it change the energy landscape of the molecular interactions. How does that force facilitate binding or unbinding to other molecular entities? We still don’t know which proteins have cryptic sites that open upon physiological force applications. To a certain extent, we have not identified all the key molecular players in force transduction.


"An artificial cell that does not have any encoded components. It can still come from purifying a protein out of a host cell like E. coli. A major approach is based on protein reconstitution.

"The way that this could work is—if you think about the cells in our bodies that do not have a nucleus, like red blood cells and platelets. Although these cells do not have a nucleus, they perform very sophisticated functions. For instance, a platelet is just ~2-3 microns in size, yet it has all the protein machinery enclosed within its own cell membrane and can function in blood coagulation without having any genetically encoded components.

Comment: I think of this scientist as viewing the cell as I do. Where in the platelet is the intelligence to run its functions? The interview is about a ten minute read and opens up a new area of cell research looking at how the cell's automatic reactions are controlled in part by physical forces.

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