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Curr Biol. 2004 Nov 23;14(22):R971-82.

Molecular motors: strategies to get along.

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Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, University of California Irvine, California 92697, USA.


The majority of active transport in the cell is driven by three classes of molecular motors: the kinesin and dynein families that move toward the plus-end and minus-end of microtubules, respectively, and the unconventional myosin motors that move along actin filaments. Each class of motor has different properties, but in the cell they often function together. In this review we summarize what is known about their single-molecule properties and the possibilities for regulation of such properties. In view of new results on cytoplasmic dynein, we attempt to rationalize how these different classes of motors might work together as part of the intracellular transport machinery. We propose that kinesin and myosin are robust and highly efficient transporters, but with somewhat limited room for regulation of function. Because cytoplasmic dynein is less efficient and robust, to achieve function comparable to the other motors it requires a number of accessory proteins as well as multiple dyneins functioning together. This necessity for additional factors, as well as dynein's inherent complexity, in principle allows for greatly increased control of function by taking the factors away either singly or in combination. Thus, dynein's contribution relative to the other motors can be dynamically tuned, allowing the motors to function together differently in a variety of situations.

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