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Site Visit: Catching Up to Kinesin

14 October 1999 7:00 pm
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The molecular motor protein called kinesin is a cellular mover and shaker, stirring to action everything from cilia to dividing chromosomes. Hoping to unravel how kinesin uses adenosine triphosphate to crawl along microtubules, researchers are scrutinizing the protein from many angles--they've even tacked a single kinesin molecule to a tiny glass rod to measure its strength, about 5 piconewtons or the force a laser pointer makes on a screen.

For the latest dispatches from this hot field, visit the Kinesin Home Page. Part tutorial, part database, the site began in 1996 with a review paper by Duke molecular geneticist Sharyn Endow. Colleagues contributed more articles, and bioinformatics experts at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle added outside links, creating an info cache that's frequently updated. The site lists the family tree for the dozens of known versions of kinesin; you can jump to sequences in protein databanks or analyze crystallographic structures. Other links point you toward kinesin lab Web pages and the latest PubMed articles.

You need not be an expert to enjoy the site's many images: Check out fluorescently labeled kinesin in dividing cells, for example, and weird movies of fruit fly larvae, with defective kinesin genes, thrashing about.

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