Molecular Movies

9 07 2008

Cell has an interesting article on the benefits and the technical challenges associated with pretty movies that illustrate cellular events. When done well, these really help remind me of the scale of cellular components and their interactions. Here is a short snippet from the text.

Although animation is a powerful tool that lets one dissect the chronology and mechanism of a multistep process, how do we depict the variety of molecular motions that occur on drastically different timescales within a single movie? Thermal motion of individual atoms (10−15 to 10−12 s), amino acid side chain motions (10−9 s), diffusional events (10−6 s), transient conformational changes and folding (10−6 to 10−1 s), and large conformational changes all contribute to our understanding of molecular function. When one also considers the timescales relevant to processes in cell biology (1 − 102 s), we are faced with a daunting range spanning 17 orders of magnitude!

The article also has the most comprehensive collection of links to cool molecular visualization movies, which are also appended below.

A. Olson, A.J. (1981)
B. McGill, G. (2007)
C. Martinez, G. (2007)
D. Ortiz, J. (2006a)
E. Ortiz, J. (2006b)
F. Sharpe, J., et al. (2005)
G. Iwasa, J. (2007)
H. Sannuga, S. (2006)
I. McGill, G., and Iwasa, J. (2008)
J. Berry, D. (2007)
K. Berry, D. (2008)
L. Johnson, G. (2000)
M. Keller, E. (2003)
N. Keller, E. (2007)
O. Martinez, G., and Davy, S. (2007)
P. XVIVO (2006)