www.youtube.com Cytoskeletal Motor Proteins Ron Vale, July 2007 HHMI /Dept of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco www.ascb.org Molecular motor proteins are fascinating enzymes that power much of the movement performed by living organisms. In the first part of this lecture, I will provide an overview of the motors that move along cytoskeletal tracks (kinesin and dynein which move along microtubules and myosin which moves along actin). The main focus of this lecture is on how motor proteins work. How does a nanoscale protein convert energy from ATP hydrolysis into unidirectional motion and force production? What tools do we have at our disposal to study them? The first part of the lecture will focus on these questions for kinesin (a microtubule-based motor) and myosin (an actin-based motor), since they have been the subject of extensive studies and good models for their mechanisms have emerged. I conclude by discussing the importance of understanding motor proteins for human disease, in particular illustrating a recent biotechnology effort from Cytokinetics, Inc. to develop drugs that activate cardiac myosins to improve cardiac contractility in patients suffering from heart failure. The first part of the lecture is directed to a general audience or a beginning graduate class.