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Understanding molecular motors regulation


Within cells, order is established through motor-driven transport along microtubule track that moves and positions organelles to their proper location. How such transport is regulated remains poorly understood. Nonetheless, understanding regulation of transport is extremely important to clarify diseases where impaired transport is observed, such as Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative conditions. The molecular motors responsible for microtubule-based motion, kinesin and dynein “walk” towards the periphery and the center of the cell respectively. Much evidence suggests that the regulation of motor activity is achieved by a protein complex that functions as a switching device, turning off kinesin motors when dynein motors are on and vice-versa .To achieve a comprehensive identification of the proteins regulating the transport process, we are determining the components of the molecular motor regulatory complex of lipid droplets from Drosophila embryos.

Using biochemical techniques, we first isolated the cargos of interest, i.e. lipid droplets, from which we then extract the molecular motor complexes. Mass spectrometry has then been applied to identify the components of these complexes, while physiological validation has been performed by genetic and biophysical approaches. This unique combination of different procedures allows us to deepen our understating on molecular-motor-based transport and its regulation.