Understanding how myosin uses chemical energy to generate force and motion
Conventional myosin generates force in muscle, but other myosins play diverse biological roles, including transporting cargo throughout the cell. We will use sophisticated biophysical techniques to directly observe the motion of single myosin molecules in order to better understand how myosin converts chemical energy into useful motion. This project also has a more universal applicability. Recent work suggests that enzymes in general may derive their incredible catalytic ability by coupling protein motion to bond making and breaking. Single-molecule measurements on myosin offer a potentially powerful way to test this idea.
Design of new motor proteins
Artificial motor proteins have wide-ranging potential applications in fields like bottom-up nanofabrication, medical diagnostics, and responsive “smart” materials. Our group will use iterative rounds of protein design, screening, and single-molecule characterization to generate molecular motors with novel capabilities. Our work in creating novel motor proteins will test the validity and usefulness of the models of protein physics developed in Project 1.