A visualisation made from nearly 100,000 electron microscope images has revealed the ingenious way a protein involved in muscle activity shuts itself down to conserve energy.
The protein, called myosin, is known as a molecular motor because of the way it interacts with other proteins and energy molecules to generate force and movement. It is found inside muscle fibres where it forms long myosin filaments made up of hundreds of individual myosin molecules.
When muscle activity ceases, the process of forming the myosin filaments goes into reverse: the filaments decouple and return to the individual myosin molecule state.
The visualisation – developed by scientists from Leeds and East Carolina University in the US – has revealed how the structure of the molecule changes.