Because cells are divided in many parts that serve different functions some cellular goodies need to be transported from one part of the cell to another for it to function smoothly. There is an entire class of proteins called ‘molecular motors’, such as myosin 5, that specialize in transporting cargo using chemical energy as fuel.
Remarkably, these proteins not only function like nano-scale lorries, they also look like a two-legged creature that takes very small steps. But exactly how Myosin 5 did this was unclear.
The motion of myosin 5 has now been recorded by a team led by Oxford University scientists using a new microscopy technique that can ‘see’ tiny steps of tens of nanometres captured at up to 1000 frames per second. The findings are of interest for anyone trying to understand the basis of cellular function but could also help efforts aimed at designing efficient nanomachines.