In order to stay alive, the cell must provide its various organelles with all the energy elements they need, which are formed in the Golgi apparatus, its centre of maturation and redistribution of lipids and proteins. But how do the proteins that carry these cargoes — the kinesins — find their way and direction within the cell’s “road network” to deliver them at the right place? Chemists and biochemists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have discovered a fluorescent chemical dye, making it possible for the first time to track the transport activity of a specific motor protein within a cell. A discovery to be read in the magazine Nature communication.
“It all started from a research that didn’t go as planned,” laughs Nicolas Winssinger, professor at the Department of Organic Chemistry of the Faculty of Science at UNIGE. “Initially, we wanted to develop a molecule that would make it possible to visualise the stress level of the cell, i.e. when it accumulates too much active oxygen species. During the experiment, the molecule did not work, but crystallised. Why did it crystallise? What were these crystals?”