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Image of myosin-actin interaction revealed in cover story of Molecular Cell

Scientists from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the University of Vermont have captured the first 3-dimensional (3D) atomic-resolution images of the motor protein myosin V as it "walks" along other proteins, revealing new structural insights that advance the current model of protein motility and muscle contraction. The culmination of four years of work, this collaboration among biochemists and structural biologists was selected as the cover story for the September issue of the scientific journal Molecular Cell.

The Burnham team, led by Dorit Hanein, Ph.D., was the first to reveal the 3D representation of myosin V "walking" along actin filament, a key protein involved in motility and muscle contraction. Using electron-cryo microscopy to take 3D snapshots of myosin V and actin interacting, researchers were able to see myosin V moving along the actin substrate in a "natural state." Previous 2D models have been based on staining or other treatment of the myosin that might alter the complex's natural mechanism of action.

Myosins are a large family of motor proteins that interact with actin filaments for motor movement and muscle contraction. Myosin V is the workhorse of the myosin protein family. It exists to ferry a cargo of proteins needed in a specific place at a specific time. Fueled by hydrolysis -- the process of converting the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP) into energy -- myosin V travels in one direction using actin as a track to deliver its payload of cell vesicles and organelles. Myosin V is also involved in transporting proteins that signal and communicate with other cells.

Myosin V has a two-chained "tail" that diverges to form two "heads" that bind to specific grooves on actin and walk hand over hand along the track, similar to the way a child moves along the monkey bars in a playground. Myosin V differs from the other myosin family proteins in that it is able to sustain this processive motion, enduring man
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Source:Burnham Institute


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