August 25, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Researchers Record the Hum of Cellular Motors at Work

Researchers from UCLA placed a probe on a yeast cell and found that it vibrated at 1.6 kHz.  Further tests showed the vibration responded to temperature and to metabolic agents.  They think they have discovered the hum of cellular motors at work, reports Science News.1  “By the UCLA team’s calculations,“ writes Alexandra Goho, “molecular-motor proteins inside the cell are the likely source of the rumble.  Such proteins carry chemical cargo along molecular tracks called microtubules and pump nutrients in and out of cells.”  They translated the vibrations into a sound file you can download at the website of lead investigator James Gimzewski.


1Alexandra Goho, “Rattle and Hum: Molecular machinery makes yeast cells purr,” Science News, Week of Aug. 21, 2004; Vol. 166, No. 8 , p. 116.

The sound of motorized freeway traffic inside the cell: fascinating.  Blobs of jello don’t purr.

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