A research group led by Assistant Professor Hiroshi Imai of Chuo University and Professor Takahide Kun of Osaka University has succeeded in directly observing the movement of the protein motor "dynein" that transports substances inside cells.It is thought that intracellular substance transport is involved in neurological diseases, growth abnormalities, and the development of cancer, and it is expected that it will contribute to the establishment of treatment methods for these diseases in the future.

 The cells that make up the body of an organism have an advanced substance transport system that transports a wide variety of substances such as proteins and RNA to where they are needed and when they are needed.At the heart of this system are two proteins, kinesin and dynein, which play the role of motors.The mechanism of kinesin motion is being elucidated at the atomic level.On the other hand, although the mechanism of dynein has been studied for half a century, it still remains unclear.The reason why the movement of dynein could not be elucidated until now was that its structure was not well understood.In recent years, research using a method called X-ray crystal structure analysis has revealed the structure of dynein in a stopped state.However, if we cannot capture the movement on microtubules stretched like rails inside the cell, we cannot say that we have completely elucidated the mechanism of movement.
So far, it has been known that dynein has a structure like two legs, and it was predicted that it would move like walking on rails.In this research, we succeeded in capturing the details of the appearance of dynein moving on the rail for the first time by using an observation method called cryo-electron microscopy.This allowed us to clarify which direction the two legs were facing and how they were walking on the microtubules.

Based on the results of this research, we can expect to establish treatment methods for various diseases caused by abnormal substance transport.Furthermore, since it is involved in the control of cell division, it has the potential to elucidate the cause of cancer and treat it.

Source:[Chuo University] I could see the structure of the intracellular protein "dynein" when it is moving! — To elucidate the mechanism by which molecular motors that transport substances inside cells move —

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