Feb 17, 2006    #033
Contact: Noemi Rojas
(816) 235-1520

UMKC professor publishes in Nature Cell Biology

In its March issue, the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology will publish the work of Stephen J. King, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Biological Sciences.

King’s paper, “A microtubule-binding domain in dynactin increases dynein processivity by skating along microtubules,” is already available for viewing in the advance publication of Nature Cell Biology online at

Dynein is a motor protein that transports cargos inside cells. Dynein uses a walking motion with the use of two leg-like protrusions to move; but sometimes dynein’s movement can derail from its microtubule track.

King’s work found that a different protein, dynactin, increases the distance that the dynein motor can move along a microtubule. Dynactin serves as a safety line, keeping dynein on track, King said. Before, scientists didn’t know how dynein and dynactin interacted with each other.

The discovery could be significant for scientists trying to improve drug therapy by understanding how to move drugs to certain places in the body, even to specific locations inside cells. These findings may also be helpful to scientists looking for cellular-level therapies for paralysis.

Defects in cell proteins like dynein and dynactin can cause neuron degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

“My ultimate goal is to understand how transport works so we can learn to manipulate the process for future therapies,” King said.

King receives a grant from the National Institutes of Health of approximately $270,000 a year for five years to fund his research. Other funding sources King receives for related projects come from the National Institutes of Health in collaboration with the University of California Irvine, the American Heart Association, and the Missouri Alzheimer’s Association.

Co-authors of King’s paper are Tara L. Culver-Hanlon, Stephanie A. Lex and Andrew D. Stephens of UMKC’s School of Biological Sciences, Division of Molecular Biology and BioChemistry; and Nicholas J. Quintyne, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Biological Sciences.

Nature Cell Biology publishes high impact papers from all areas of cell biology, particularly those that shed light on the molecular mechanisms responsible for fundamental cell biological processes.

UMKC, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).



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