Science & Tech

Scientists aid in the discovery of a new type of Molecular Motor

The National Centre for Biological Sciences has found a new type of molecular motor that may have uses in biology and medicine.

What exactly is a molecular motor?

  • Molecular motors are used by cells to move organelles and molecules, and disruption of these processes can result in disease.
  • Biochemical energy is used by molecular motors to do mechanical work.

What did the new study discover?

  • The researchers discovered that EEA1, a lengthy protein, can restore its rigid shape to form a new type of two-part molecular motor.
  • EEA1 regains its rigid structure via a mechanism known as GTP hydrolysis, which is mediated by enzymes known as GTPases.
  • The researchers believe this could herald the emergence of a new class of molecular machines that function as motors in unexpected ways with novel collective effects.

Why is the discovery significant?

  • The motor differs from typical motors in that it does not create a lever-like back-and-forth action and instead uses GTP for energy rather than ATP (Adenosine Tri Phosphate).
  • EEA1 has a unique property in that it exerts an entropic force on the membranes it pulls.
  • The discovery could have implications for understanding membrane fusion as well as many other mechanochemical proteins or assemblies.

What are some of the possible applications?

  • The discovery of the molecular motor could have biological and medical applications.
  • The research establishes a general method that can be used to many mechanochemical proteins or assemblies that use chemical energy to do mechanical work in cells.
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