Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Biophysics

pp 1664-1671

Myosin: Fundamental Properties and Structure

  • David AltmanAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Willamette University Email author 


Molecular motors; Structural basis of myosin motility; Structural features common to all myosin classes


Myosins are a superfamily of molecular motors that convert the chemical energy of ATP hydrolysis into directed motion along the filamentous protein actin.


Within the myosin superfamily, there are numerous classes that are responsible for a wide range of cellular processes requiring generation of force and motion, including organelle trafficking, cellular motion, cytokinesis, and muscle contraction (reviewed in Foth et al. 2006). The goal of this entry is to discuss the common myosin structural features that allow these motors to convert the chemical energy associated with ATP hydrolysis into force and motion.

Myosin Nomenclature

A detailed description of myosin nomenclature can be found in myosin family classification; a brief overview is presented here. The term “myosin” was originally used to describe the protein responsible f ...

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