If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Physical Chemistry

High-Definition Dynein

Latest X-ray structure of the motor protein provides atomic-scale resolution

by Sarah Everts
March 12, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 11

Credit: Nature
An atomic-resolution structure of the walking motor protein dynein.
Credit: Nature
An atomic-resolution structure of the walking motor protein dynein.

The first atomic-resolution X-ray structure has been obtained for dynein, a motor protein that cruises around cells on microtubule tracks to pull apart DNA during cell division, ferry organelles and vesicles around cells, and drive the motions of flagella and cilia. A Japanese research team led by Osaka University’s Takahide Kon solved the massive protein’s structure at 2.8-Å resolution (shown; Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature10955). Of the three molecular motors known to walk around cells on protein tracks, dynein has been the most elusive to crystallize. Structures of the other motor proteins, myosin and kinesin, were more easily solved—their motor domains are one-tenth of the size of dynein’s. “It has been a very intense and exciting year for dynein structures,” says Andrew P. Carter, a structural biologist at MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, in Cambridge, England. Last year, Carter’s group provided the first 6-Å glimpse of dynein (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1202393). That achievement was quickly followed by a 4.5-Å structure from Kon’s group, and just this month a 3.3-Å version from Carter’s group (Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol., DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2074 and DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2272). The new 2.8-Å and 3.3-Å structures “are going to provide a field day for all those who are interested in how motors work,” Carter says.


This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.