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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Aug 23;102(34):12059-64. Epub 2005 Aug 15.

Monte Carlo modeling of single-molecule cytoplasmic dynein.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Molecular motors are responsible for active transport and organization in the cell, underlying an enormous number of crucial biological processes. Dynein is more complicated in its structure and function than other motors. Recent experiments have found that, unlike other motors, dynein can take different size steps along microtubules depending on load and ATP concentration. We use Monte Carlo simulations to model the molecular motor function of cytoplasmic dynein at the single-molecule level. The theory relates dynein's enzymatic properties to its mechanical force production. Our simulations reproduce the main features of recent single-molecule experiments that found a discrete distribution of dynein step sizes, depending on load and ATP concentration. The model reproduces the large steps found experimentally under high ATP and no load by assuming that the ATP binding affinities at the secondary sites decrease as the number of ATP bound to these sites increases. Additionally, to capture the essential features of the step-size distribution at very low ATP concentration and no load, the ATP hydrolysis of the primary site must be dramatically reduced when none of the secondary sites have ATP bound to them. We make testable predictions that should guide future experiments related to dynein function.

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