Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks are cilia, antenna-like structures protruding from most vertebrate cells. Whenever cilia fail to assemble correctly, their malfunctions can cause numerous human diseases.
The assembly and maintenance of cilia requires a bidirectional transport machinery known as Intraflagellar Transport (IFT), which moves in train-like structures along the microtubular skeleton of the cilium. Not only the structure of IFT trains was, so far, unknown, but also how the two types of oppositely directed molecular motors, kinesin and dynein, are prevented from interfering with each other, resulting in a smooth and constant motion of IFT trains.
The research group around Gaia Pigino at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden solved those two unanswered questions using cryo-electron microscopy and published their findings in the journal Nature Cell Biology (“The cryo-EM structure of intraflagellar transport trains reveals how dynein is inactivated to ensure unidirectional anterograde movement in cilia”).
Read more at nanowerk.com

Image Credit:    NewsJordan et al. Nature Cell Biology / MPI-CBG / Illustration: Bara Krautz

News This Week

A ‘cancer lab’ on chip

Finding out you have cancer is bad enough, but to then have to go to hospital for a painful and invasive biopsy to try to identify the exact type of tumor can be deeply [...]

Nanoparticles Heal Spinal Cord Injuries

The zealous immune response to injuries is known to cause paralyzing damage in spinal cord injury (SCI). Engineers have now created unique nanoparticles that redirect immune cells away from the spinal cord, promoting regeneration [...]