A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has determined the basic structural organization of a molecular motor that hauls cargoes and performs other critical functions within cells.
Biologists have long wanted to know how this molecular motor—called the “dynein-dynactin complex"—works. But the complex’s large size, myriad subunits and high flexibility have until now restricted structural studies to small pieces of the whole.
In the new research, however, TSRI biologist Gabriel C. Lander and his laboratory, in collaboration with Trina A. Schroer and her group at Johns Hopkins University, created a picture of the whole dynein-dynactin structure.
"This work gives us critical insights into the regulation of the dynein motor and establishes a structural framework for understanding why defects in this system have been linked to diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s,” said Lander.
The findings are reported in a Nature Structural & Molecular Biology advance online publication on March 9, 2015.
Credit: Lander lab, The
Scripps Research Institute.