Blebbistatin works by interfering only with a type of myosin necessary for the final stage of cell division, said HMS postdoctoral fellow Aaron Straight, first author of the paper. The final stages of cell division happens in mere minutes too fast for scientific scrutiny. Other inhibitors that slow or stop cell contraction also damage other parts of the cell, obscuring molecular details. Blebbistatin appears to works with the precision of a scalpel, both freezing the action and preserving other molecules and functions for detailed study.
Myosin the protein responsible for the contraction of muscle - is central to many aspects of human biology, including heartbeat, breathing and movement. Myosin mutations can cause heart disease, deafness, blood disorders and blindness. Myosin is also necessary for single cells to divide. Myosin is required for each and every cell division in the human body, beginning with one fertilized cell to the billions of cells in an adult, Straight said. Myosin also powers the movement of cells through the body, including immune cells that are trying to kill an invading pathogen and nerve cells seeking to make the proper connections in the developing brain.
Straight and his colleagues discovered more details about when and where the action of myosin is required in cytokinesis, the final stage of cell division. In one of two main findings, they showed for the first time
Contact: John Lacey
Harvard Medical School