X-rays solve transport problem

X-ray crystallography has provided new insights into how the microscopic motorised transport system that operates in our cells is powered. The study could have implications for understanding the symptoms of Down syndrome, the neuromuscular condition Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and some cancers, all of which arise through some form of breakdown of this system. The work may ultimately lead to possible new treatments for such disorders.

The researchers behind the work are from Duke University Medical Center, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, and the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the UK. They explain that molecular motors are responsible for driving the separation of chromosomes during cell division. This process does not proceed normally in certain genetic disorders and if unchecked can lead to cancer.

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