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EMBL-EBI_Structures_of_Christmas_2016_ACTIN

Structure of Christmas: move!

In muscle, actin is laid out in a regular series of contraction units, repeated in order. Myosin hauls itself against the actin and catches it, pulling forwards (consuming energy). It then brings in another myosin, which hauls itself against another actin. By this ‘strike and pull’ action, each of the tiny contraction units shrink, and the cumulative effect is physical changes in muscle length. This powers every kind of muscle movement, from the beat of a butterfly’s wing beat to each step of Usain Bolt’s 100-metre sprint.

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