A team of scientists from Peking University report a putative magnetic receptor (MagR) protein in Drosophila, CG8198 . MagR binds an iron—sulphur cluster and interacts with photoreceptor cryptochrome (Cry) proteins to form a multimeric magnetosensing rod-like complex. Assemblies of these rods were observed orienting themselves in a weak magnetic field. Qin et al. speculate that these structures may function like compasses in living organisms, although the mechanism of magnetoreception in vivo remains a mystery .
|A complete Cry/MagR magnetosensor protein complex structure model with 10 Crys helically binding to the rod-like MagR polymer consisting of 20 MagRs.|
- Qin, S., Yin, H., Yang, C., Dou, Y., Liu, Z., Zhang, P., Yu, H., Huang, Y., Feng, J., Hao, J., Hao, J., Deng, L., Yan, X., Dong, X., Zhao, Z., Jiang, T., Wang, H.-W., Luo, S.-J. and Xie, C. (2015) A magnetic protein biocompass. Nature Materials, in print.
- Cyranoski, D. (2015) Long-sought biological compass discovered: Protein complex offers explanation for how animals sense Earth’s magnetic pull. Nature 527, 283–284.