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Cellular motility and microbial molecular motors
Prof Ann-Beth Jonsson
Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Toxicology
Swedish Research Council - Vetenskapsrådet (VR)
Motility of living organisms is carried out by various motor proteins or biological motors. Single molecule biological engines power muscles, cell division, and a variety of other essential cell functions. This project concerns groundbreaking studies of a recently identified supermotor (the strongest single molecule biomotor known so far), which is located in the bacterial membrane of certain gram negative bacteria, where it is responsible for biofilament retraction. The motor driven retraction of bacterial surface filaments is involved in bacterial movement and interaction with surfaces. The aims of the project are to: 1) Identify the active domains of the PilT supermotor, which is essential for motility on surfaces. 2) Establish requirements for motor function using in vitro systems. 3) Establish experimental data of pilus movement and measure the biomechanical forces. 4) Study how twitching motility affects the cell cycle regulation in mammalian cells. We will characterize mechanisms of this motor, by employing many different analysis methods and also collaborate with different disciplines. Such experiments will aim at probing the motor protein regulation, and to modify and control the operation of the biomotor. Exploring the detailed function of the biofilament retraction supermotor is the best route towards design and synthesis of artificial motors for future nanomechanical application, involving artificial nanotube filament dynamics for molecular robotics.
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