Published Online: 15 SEP 2006
Copyright © 2006 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine
How to Cite
Asbury, C. L. and Block, S. M. 2006. Motor Proteins. Encyclopedia of Molecular Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine.
- Published Online: 15 SEP 2006
Cellular motions have fascinated biologists during the 400 years since the invention of the optical microscope first allowed them to be seen. Today, we know that motions underlying the most essential processes of life—such as cell division, energy transduction, muscle contraction, DNA replication, transcription, and translation—are generated by molecular motors. A molecular motor is a protein, or a complex of proteins and nucleic acids, that produces motion and force. For fuel, many molecular motors consume nucleotide triphosphates, breaking an energy-rich phosphate bond to release chemical energy, and then converting this into mechanical work. Other motors tap electrochemical gradients that exist across membranes within bacteria, mitochondria, and chloroplasts. Motor proteins are Nature's nanomachines, and they often function with efficiency that far exceeds the best human-engineered machines.
- Working Stroke