Molecular motors belonging to the myosin and kinesin superfamilies utilize ATP to move along their respective F-actin and microtubule tracks. The track-motor complexes have not been amenable to crystallization, so x-ray crystallographic investigations have focused on structure determinations of the individual proteins. Although providing detailed descriptions of the structure of each protein, this approach cannot reveal the geometry of interaction of the proteins nor the conformational changes which occur during the mechanochemical cycle. To obtain this information, we use cryoelectron microscopy and image analysis to calculate three dimensional maps of the track-motor complexes at moderate resolution (15-30A) and combine these data with the high resolution x-ray structures to provide near-atomic models of the working assemblies.
We have so far built models of the rigor (nucleotide-free) and ADP actomyosin complexes. In smooth muscle myosin II (a collaboration with H.L. Sweeney, U. Perm.) and brush border myosin I (BBMI), the motor domain of the myosin head is similar in both biochemical states.