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Motor proteins may be vehicles for drug delivery
Date:3/20/2009

scale world fundamentally differs from the macro-scale world we normally live in."

The key to successfully hauling the cargo from one point to another lies in perfect coordination between the two motor domains. At any given time, one of the motor domains always needs to be bound to the track.

"Each motor domain is by itself an enzyme that continually alters the mechanics and the biochemistry of the other," explained Hancock, whose work is funded by the National Institutes of Health. "And we are trying to understand the mechanical coordination between the two domains. You can think of it like walking on two feet, but there's no brain to control when a step is taken, only a mechanical connection between the two feet."

The researchers have found that the tether that links the motor domains to the rest of the molecule is longer in kinesin-2 motors than in other kinesin proteins, which prevents efficient mechanical coordination between the two motor domains.

"If you think of this linker domain as a taut bungee cord, any force at one end will be communicated very efficiently to the other end. So the two motors can communicate very efficiently and the timing of their steps is tightly coordinated," Hancock said. "But if the cord is very loose, the forces from one motor domain are poorly communicated to the other and the precise timing of their steps is disrupted. This is a big effect and it reduces the performance of kinesin-2."

To confirm their findings, the researchers artificially lengthened the tethers on kinesin-1 motor proteins. These motors ferry chemicals over much greater distances -- such as in neurons that can be a meter long -- and the coordination between their two motor domains is very efficient.

The researchers found that when the tethers on kinesin-1 motors were lengthened, the communication between the two heads was diminished.

Hancock believes that the insight into the relationship between the
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Contact: Amitabh Avasthi
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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