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Tug of war in the cells
Date:3/19/2008

s must then take the force of the winning team alone and are also removed even more quickly. In a domino effect, the losing motors concede and are removed from the microtubule until no others remain. The winning team is then able to transport the cargo quickly, unopposed. "However, the cell does not leave it to chance to ensure that the cargo arrives at its destination. Regulatory proteins probably intervene," says Melanie Mueller.

Researchers into the transport of fat particles in Drosophila embryos examined whether her model applied in reality. It is actually explained by experimental observations that took place previously on the transport mechanism. A cargo in a microtubule does not move directly from one end to the other. It is constantly pulled back in the opposite direction. The losing motors can, however, occasionally remove the winning ones from the microtubule as heat sometimes blows the winning motors away. The cargo particles therefore move in both directions.

"This bi-directional transport process is very flexible," explains Melanie Mueller. It can change direction if the cargo passes its destination or change the speed of the transport. The tug-of-war mechanism, where the winning team pulls the opposing motor team as well as the cargo through the cell, also solves another logistical problem in the cell. It always carries the motors to the end of the microtubule from which they are able to move, preventing an accumulation of motors of one kind at their respective destination.

"Despite the simple mechanism, a cargo particle transported by two motor teams reveals very complex motility behavior," said Melanie Mueller. There are seven different types of motility behavior. These are various combinations of movements to the positive and minus end as well as pauses to which the cargo particles can be subjected. The probability of movement in a certain direction or stopping, and the time lapses between the changes of direction, depend
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Contact: Melanie J.I. Mueller
mmueller@mpikg.mpg.de
49-331-567-9623
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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