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Motility Powered by Supramolecular Springs and Ratchets

Not all biological movements are caused by molecular motors sliding along filaments or tubules. Just as springs and ratchets can store or release energy and rectify motion in physical systems, their analogs can perform similar functions in biological systems. The energy of biological springs is derived from hydrolysis of a nucleotide or the binding of a ligand, whereas biological ratchets are powered by Brownian movements of polymerizing filaments. However, the viscous and fluctuating cellular environment and the mechanochemistry of soft biological systems constrain the modes of motion generated and the mechanisms for energy storage, control, and release.

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Resource Type: Journal article/Issue, Illustration, Image
Audience Level: High school upper division 11-12, Undergraduate lower division 13-14, Undergraduate upper division 15-16, Graduate, Professional (degree program)

Author and Copyright

Authors and Editors: L. Mahadevan of Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, P. Matsudaira of Department of Biology and Division of Bioengineering and Environmental Health, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Publisher: AAAS
Format: text/html
Copyright and other restrictions: Yes
Cost: No


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