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Mol Biol Cell. 2011 Nov;22(21):3936-9. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E11-05-0447.

Molecular motors: forty years of interdisciplinary research.

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Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


A mere forty years ago it was unclear what motor molecules exist in cells that could be responsible for the variety of nonmuscle cell movements, including the "saltatory cytoplasmic particle movements" apparent by light microscopy. One wondered whether nonmuscle cells might have a myosin-like molecule, well known to investigators of muscle. Now we know that there are more than a hundred different molecular motors in eukaryotic cells that drive numerous biological processes and organize the cell's dynamic city plan. Furthermore, in vitro motility assays, taken to the single-molecule level using techniques of physics, have allowed detailed characterization of the processes by which motor molecules transduce the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis into mechanical movement. Molecular motor research is now at an exciting threshold of being able to enter into the realm of clinical applications.

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