Enzyme leaps fuel antichemotaxis

Research Highlight

The run and tumble of enzymes

© LAGUNA DESIGN/Science Photo Library/Getty

Enzymes ‘run and tumble’ like many bacteria, heading with jerky motions towards areas with lower concentrations of the substances they act on. Researchers at the Institute for Basic Science in South Korea developed a mathematical formula describing this movement that could be used for programming molecules to homogenize their distribution in a material. 

The team used super-resolution microscopy to see how enzymes, labelled with fluorescent dye, move when placed in a device where their substrates have a gradually changing concentration. They found that enzymes, similar to swimming bacteria, demonstrate a burst of movement followed by a change of direction. For enzymes, this motion happens in the overall direction from higher to lower substrate concentration, homogenizing their distribution, which can be useful in a crowded cellular environment. 

The team’s formula describing this motion can be used to program molecules to move in response to a chemical stimulus.

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  1. PNAS 115, 14–18 (2018). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1717844115
Institutions Authors Share
Center for Soft and Living Matter, IBS, South Korea
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea