Coordination of kinesin's two heads studied with mutant heterodimers.
A conventional kinesin molecule has two identical catalytic domains (heads) and is thought to use them alternately to move processively, with 8-nm steps. To clarify how each head contributes to the observed steps, we have constructed heterodimeric kinesins that consist of two distinct heads. The heterodimers in which one of the heads is mutated in a microtubule-binding loop moved processively, even when the parent mutant homodimers bound too weakly to retain microtubules in microtubule-gliding assays. The velocities of the heterodimers were only slightly higher than those of the mutant homodimers, although mixtures of these weak-binding mutant homodimers and the WT dimers moved microtubules at a velocity similar to the WT. Thus, the mutant head affects the motility of the WT head only when they are in the same molecule. The maximum force a single heterodimer produced in optical trapping nanometry was intermediate between the WT and mutant homodimers, indicating that both heads contribute to the maximum force at the same time. These results demonstrate close collaboration of kinesin's two heads in producing force and motility. (+info)
Guiding neuronal growth with light.
Control over neuronal growth is a fundamental objective in neuroscience, cell biology, developmental biology, biophysics, and biomedicine and is particularly important for the formation of neural circuits in vitro, as well as nerve regeneration in vivo [Zeck, G. & Fromherz, P. (2001) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98, 10457-10462]. We have shown experimentally that we can use weak optical forces to guide the direction taken by the leading edge, or growth cone, of a nerve cell. In actively extending growth cones, a laser spot is placed in front of a specific area of the nerve's leading edge, enhancing growth into the beam focus and resulting in guided neuronal turns as well as enhanced growth. The power of our laser is chosen so that the resulting gradient forces are sufficiently powerful to bias the actin polymerization-driven lamellipodia extension, but too weak to hold and move the growth cone. We are therefore using light to control a natural biological process, in sharp contrast to the established technique of optical tweezers [Ashkin, A. (1970) Phys. Rev. Lett. 24, 156-159; Ashkin, A. & Dziedzic, J. M. (1987) Science 235, 1517-1520], which uses large optical forces to manipulate entire structures. Our results therefore open an avenue to controlling neuronal growth in vitro and in vivo with a simple, noncontact technique. (+info)
Detection of ClC-3 and ClC-5 in epididymal epithelium: immunofluorescence and RT-PCR after LCM.
Epithelial cells of the epididymis and vas deferens establish an optimum luminal environment in which spermatozoa mature and are stored. This is achieved by active transepithelial transport of various ions including Cl(-) and H(+). We investigated the localization of three closely related members of the ClC family, ClC-3, ClC-4, and ClC-5, in the epididymis and vas deferens. RT-PCR using mRNA isolated by laser capture microdissection (LCM)-detected ClC-3 and ClC-5 transcripts but did not detect any ClC-4-specific transcript. Western blot and immunofluorescence analysis demonstrated that ClC-3 and ClC-5 proteins are present in all regions of the epididymis and in the vas deferens. ClC-5 is expressed exclusively in H(+)-ATPase-rich cells (narrow and clear cells). Confocal microscopy showed that ClC-5 partially colocalizes with the H(+)-ATPase in the subapical pole of clear cells. ClC-3 is strongly expressed in the apical membrane of principal cells of the caput epididymidis and the vas deferens and is less abundant in principal cells of the body and cauda epididymidis. These findings are consistent with a potential role for ClC-3 in transepithelial chloride transport by principal cells and for ClC-5 in the acidification of H(+)-ATPase-containing vesicles in narrow and clear cells. ClC-5 might facilitate endosome trafficking in the epididymis, as has been proposed in the kidney. (+info)
The motion of a single molecule, the lambda-receptor, in the bacterial outer membrane.
Using optical tweezers and single particle tracking, we have revealed the motion of a single protein, the lambda-receptor, in the outer membrane of living Escherichia coli bacteria. We genetically modified the lambda-receptor placing a biotin on an extracellular site of the receptor in vivo. The efficiency of this in vivo biotinylation is very low, thus enabling the attachment of a streptavidin-coated bead binding specifically to a single biotinylated lambda-receptor. The bead was used as a handle for the optical tweezers and as a marker for the single particle tracking routine. We propose a model that allows extraction of the motion of the protein from measurements of the mobility of the bead-molecule complex; these results are equally applicable to analyze bead-protein complexes in other membrane systems. Within a domain of radius approximately 25 nm, the receptor diffuses with a diffusion constant of (1.5 +/- 1.0) x 10(-9) cm(2)/s and sits in a harmonic potential as if it were tethered by an elastic spring of spring constant of ~1.0 x 10(-2) pN/nm to the bacterial membrane. The purpose of the protein motion might be to facilitate transport of maltodextrins through the outer bacterial membrane. (+info)
Handmade somatic cell cloning in cattle: analysis of factors contributing to high efficiency in vitro.
Widespread application of somatic cell cloning has been hampered by biological and technical problems, which include complicated and time-consuming procedures requiring skilled labor. Recently, zona-free techniques have been published with limited or no requirement for micromanipulators. The purpose of the present work was to optimize certain steps of the micromanipulator-free (i.e., handmade) procedure, to analyze the morphology of the developing blastocysts, and to explain factors involved in the high efficiencies observed. Optimization of the procedure included selection of the appropriate medium for enucleation, orientation of pairs at fusion, timing of fusion, and culture conditions. As a result of these improved steps, in vitro efficiency as measured by blastocysts per reconstructed embryo and blastocysts per working hour was among the highest described so far. The cattle serum used in our experiments was superior to other protein sources for in vitro embryo development. One possible explanation of this effect is the considerable mitogenic activity of the cattle serum compared with that of commercially available fetal calf serum. Morphological analysis of blastocysts by inverted microscopy, inner cell mass-trophoblast differential staining, and transmission electron microscopy revealed high average quality. A high initial pregnancy rate was achieved after the transfer of single blastocysts derived by aggregation of two nuclear transfer embryos into recipients. The improved handmade somatic cell nuclear transfer method may become a useful technology as a simple, inexpensive, and efficient alternative to traditional somatic cell nuclear transfer. (+info)
Relating single-molecule measurements to thermodynamics.
Measurements made on large ensembles of molecules are routinely interpreted using thermodynamics, but the normal rules of thermodynamics may not apply to measurements made on single molecules. Using a polymer stretching experiment as an example, it is shown that in the limit of a single, short molecule the outcome of experimental measurements may depend on which variables are held fixed and which are allowed to fluctuate. Thus an experiment in which the end-to-end distance of the polymer molecule is fixed and the tension fluctuates yields a different result than an experiment where the force is fixed and the end-to-end distance fluctuates. It is further shown that this difference is due to asymmetry in the distribution of end-to-end distances for a single molecule, and that the difference vanishes in the appropriate thermodynamic limit; that is, as the polymer molecule becomes long compared to its persistence length. Despite these differences, much of the thermodynamic formalism still applies on the single-molecule level if the thermodynamic free energies are replaced with appropriate potentials of mean force. The primary remaining differences are consequences of the fact that unlike the free energies, the potentials of mean force are not in general homogeneous functions of their variables. The basic thermodynamic concepts of an intensive or extensive quantity, and the thermodynamic relationships that follow from them, are therefore less useful for interpreting single-molecule experiments. (+info)
Material studies of lipid vesicles in the L(alpha) and L(alpha)-gel coexistence regimes.
In this work, we utilize micropipette aspiration and fluorescence imaging to examine the material properties of lipid vesicles made from mixtures of palmitoyloleoylphosphocholine (POPC) and dipalmitoylphosphatidylcholine (DPPC). At elevated temperatures/low DPPC fractions, these lipids are in a miscible liquid crystalline (L(alpha)) state, whereas at lower temperatures/higher DPPC fractions they phase-separate into L(alpha) and gel phases. We show that the elastic modulus, K, and critical tension, tau(c), of L(alpha) vesicles are independent of DPPC fraction. However, as the sample temperature is increased from 15 degrees C to 45 degrees C, we measure decreases in both K and tau(c) of 20% and 50%, respectively. The elasticity change is likely driven by a change in interfacial tension. We describe the reduction in critical tension using a simple model of thermally activated membrane pores. Vesicles with two-phase coexistence exhibit material properties that differ from L(alpha) vesicles including critical tensions that are 20-40% lower. Fluorescence imaging of phase coexistent POPC/DPPC vesicles shows that the DPPC-rich domains exist in an extended network structure that exhibits characteristics of a solid. This gel network explains many of the unusual material properties of two-phase membranes. (+info)
Equilibrium and transition between single- and double-headed binding of kinesin as revealed by single-molecule mechanics.
Kinesin is a processive motor protein that "walks" on a microtubule toward its plus end. We reported previously that the distribution of unbinding force and elastic modulus for a single kinesin-microtubule complex was either unimodal or bimodal depending on the nucleotide states of the kinesin heads, hence showing that the kinesin may bind the microtubule either with one head or with both heads at once. Here, we found that the shape of the unbinding-force distribution depends both on the loading rate and on the manner of loading not only in the presence of AMP-PNP but also in the absence of nucleotides. Irrespective of the nucleotide state and the loading conditions examined here, the unbinding force obtained by loading directed toward the minus end of microtubule was 45% greater than that for plus end-directed loading. These results could be explained by a model in which equilibrium exists between single- and double-headed binding and the load (F) dependence of lifetime, tau(F), of each binding is expressed by tau(F) = tau(0)exp(-Fd/k(B)T), where tau(0) is the lifetime without external load and d a characteristic distance, both of which depend on single- or double-headed binding, k(B), the Boltzmann constant and T, the absolute temperature. The model analysis showed that the forward and backward rates of transition from single- to double-headed binding are 2 and 0.2/s for the AMP-PNP state, and 70 and 7/s for the nucleotide-free state. Moreover, in the presence of AMP-PNP, we detected the moment of transition from single- to double-headed binding through an abrupt increase in the elastic modulus and estimated the transition rate to be approximately 1/s, which is consistent with the model analysis. (+info)