Skip to Content
Uncategorized

A Molecular Machine in Action

X-ray imaging reveals a motor-like biological protein at work, helping researchers develop antibiotics.
November 19, 2009

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have used advanced imaging techniques to solve the structure of one of nature’s most important molecular machines. A clearer picture of this motor-like protein, which spins along strands of bacterial messenger RNA to read and translate it into proteins, may help pharmaceutical researchers develop new antibiotics. The researchers studied a version of the protein called Rho from E. coli bacteria. This type of protein, called a transcription factor, is also important in human development and disease.

In the video below, Rho, which is shaped like a hexagon with a hole in the center, is shown in cross section as it walks along the RNA strand, shown in orange. Rho spirals in such a way that it can only move in one direction along the RNA strand, which is crucial to making proteins properly.

In order to get a better picture of Rho, the Berkeley researchers used the lab’s Advanced Light Source, which accelerates electrons to very high energies in order to create some of the brightest x-rays in the world. Using these x-rays, they were able to see a part of Rho’s structure that was previously not very well understood.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Five poems about the mind

DREAM VENDING MACHINE I feed it coins and watch the spring coil back,the clunk of a vacuum-packed, foil-wrappeddream dropping into the tray. It dispenses all kinds of dreams—bad dreams, good dreams,short nightmares to stave off worse ones, recurring dreams with a teacake marshmallow center.Hardboiled caramel dreams to tuck in your cheek,a bag of orange dreams…

Work reinvented: Tech will drive the office evolution

As organizations navigate a new world of hybrid work, tech innovation will be crucial for employee connection and collaboration.

lucid dreaming concept
lucid dreaming concept

I taught myself to lucid dream. You can too.

We still don’t know much about the experience of being aware that you’re dreaming—but a few researchers think it could help us find out more about how the brain works.

panpsychism concept
panpsychism concept

Is everything in the world a little bit conscious?

The idea that consciousness is widespread is attractive to many for intellectual and, perhaps, also emotional
reasons. But can it be tested? Surprisingly, perhaps it can.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.