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Technique Measures Muscle Contraction At Molecular Level

vin uses a rare-earth metal atom in combination with a regular dye. The metal atom is attached to the myosin molecule and lights up with a distinct color when excited by a laser beam. If a regular dye is attached to a different part of the molecule, some of the metal atom's energy can be transferred to the dye, which then emits light of its own distinct color. By looking at the relative signal strengths of the two probes, the researchers can tell how much energy is transferred, and from that determine the distance between them.

"We know the atomic structure of the myosin head, and we know where we put the probes, so we know what the distance is initially," Selvin said. "After the myosin head rotates we measure another distance and then calculate the corresponding shape change by using simple geometry."

The researchers described their measurement technique and the changes that occur within the myosin head in the Dec. 22 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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Contact: James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
kloeppel@uiuc.edu
217-244-1073
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
4-Feb-1999


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