News of the WeekCell Biology

Molecular Motors Move in Mysterious Ways

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Science  01 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5556, pp. 780-781
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5556.780

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On page 844, a trio of biologists disputes the widely accepted mechanism of motion for kinesin. They propose that kinesin, a motor protein responsible for propelling cellular components and proteins along stiff fibers called microtubules, crawls like an inchworm rather than taking even, symmetrical steps. The theory is striking for, among other issues, its pronouncement that kinesin's two structurally identical "heads," clusters of amino acids that do most of the enzyme's work, perform vastly different tasks.