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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT
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July 30, 2012
Molecular "tags" on microtubules direct traffic inside cells. Motor proteins haul molecular cargo within cells by traveling along protein fibers called microtubules. Enzymes modify microtubules by adding or removing different molecules from their surfaces. These "tags" act like cellular traffic signals, guiding motor proteins as they travel throughout cells. Complex cells--from single-celled fungi to those in humans--are equipped with a sophisticated transportation infrastructure. Motor proteins haul molecular cargo to and from different locations inside cells by traveling along a network of protein fibers called microtubules. Enzymes inside cells frequently add or remove different molecules from the surfaces of microtubules. And although scientists have known of such modifications for many years, figuring out what these molecular tags do and how they are formed has been difficult--until now. Credit: Nicolle Rager Fuller, National Science Foundation