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Physics “tweezers” help study the engine room of the cell


From Matteo Rini at Physics:

Life is hectic inside a living cell. To keep a cell functioning, myriad processes such as protein synthesis, power generation, waste disposal, and DNA replication are constantly and simultaneously running. These processes all rely on the precise and coordinated transport of organelles, proteins, and other biomolecules to the places where the cell needs them. George Shubeita, a professor of physics at New York University Abu Dhabi, studies the mechanisms by which tiny molecular motors move these cargoes. He observes the motors with superresolution microscopes and uses optical traps, commonly known as optical tweezers, to engage the motors in a “tug-of-war” game that allows him to measure their strength. In a conversation with Physics, Shubeita explains how he applies the techniques to uncover the secrets of how these motors function within the crowded environment of a living cell. More.


What hooked you to this research topic?

We know more about how the Universe started and galaxies formed than about how I can wave my hand. It’s fascinating to try to solve the puzzles of biological life.”


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