U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Molecular Machine Cover
Published: October 24, 2001
Posted: November 02, 2001

The cover of the October 18, 2001, issue of Nature features the research of Carlos Bustamante and his colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), showing a photomicrograph of DNA as it is being packed into a virus. The Berkeley Lab measurements reveal that the DNA inside some viruses is packed so tightly that the internal pressure reaches ten times that in a champagne bottle. The researchers suspect that this high pressure helps the virus spurt its DNA into a cell once it has latched onto the surface. Once the DNA gets inside, it begins retooling the cell to manufacture new copies of the virus. The process eventually kills the cell, but not before generating thousands more viruses to spread the infection. Such tight packing is achieved by one of the most powerful molecular motors ever observed, stronger than the motors that move our muscles or the nanoscale molecular motors that duplicate DNA or transcribe it into RNA. Dr. Bustamante heads the Advanced Microscopies Department in LBNL's Physical Biosciences Division and is a Howard Hughes Investigator and Professor of Biochemistry at U.C. Berkeley. The research was done in collaboration with scientists from the University of Minnesota, and was funded by the Office of Biological & Environmental Research as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Contact: Arthur Katz, SC-72, 3-4932
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Research Technologies and Methodologies

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-72 Life Sciences Division, OBER)

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)