12 molecular machines of Christmas | Lysenin
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12 molecular machines of Christmas | Lysenin


Today’s molecular machine is the lysenin
complex. Over the course of evolution, all animals
have learned to protect themselves, they have developed their own defence mechanisms. They have their own army, comprising of molecular
soldiers, poison and ammunition. They use it very efficiently, either to attack,
or defend themselves against a target. Little, wriggly earthworms are no different. They have their own very sophisticated machinery,
named lysenin. It is a part of the earthworm’s immune system. The collective structure of the molecules
looks like a Christmas wreath. A total of nine lysenin pore-forming toxin
molecules bind to the sphingomyelin in the cell membrane of the target cells. These molecules undergo conformational changes,
leaving a pore in the middle. This pore formation in the target cell leads
ultimately to the death of the target cell, pretty much like creating a hole in the fort
of the enemy. So next time when you look at a beautiful
Christmas wreath hanging on the door, remember, a teeny, tiny, helpless-looking earthworm
has such an incredible structure too: its own pore-forming artillery. After all, it has to survive as well. Thanks for watching the video! Please come back tomorrow for the next molecular
machine.

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