Biophysical approaches to understanding the action of myosin as a molecular machine

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Many of the concepts of biological structure-function relationships were pioneered in muscle research, resulting in mechanistic knowledge spanning from molecular actions to macroscopic phenomena. Due to its abundance and spatial organization, the actomyosin system powering muscle contraction could readily be investigated by a wide variety of biophysical methods, and also provided fertile ground for the development of these techniques. For decades, muscle actomyosin was the only known biological motor system. It was later discovered that muscle contraction represents a highly specialized form of actomyosin-based contractility. All eukaryotic cells express a variety of myosin isoforms, which drive cellular processes including cell division, differentiation, movement, intracellular transport, and exo- and endocytosis. In this chapter we discuss how various biophysical methods have been used to elucidate the structural and functional properties of the actomyosin system and the physiological processes driven by its motor activity. We provide an overview of techniques applied to study molecular and supramolecular features of diverse myosin motors including their structure, kinetics, conformational transitions, force generation, assembly, cooperation, regulation, and the linkage of these properties to cellular and physiological functions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMolecular Biophysics for the Life Sciences
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781461485483
ISBN (Print)9781461485476
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Actin
  • Activation
  • Allostery
  • ATP
  • ATPase
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Energy transduction
  • Enzyme
  • Kinetics
  • Mechanism
  • Method
  • Molecular motors
  • Motility
  • Muscle
  • Myosin
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

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