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Biophys J. 2011 Jul 20;101(2):386-95. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.05.067.

Productive cooperation among processive motors depends inversely on their mechanochemical efficiency.

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Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA.


Subcellular cargos are often transported by teams of processive molecular motors, which raises questions regarding the role of motor cooperation in intracellular transport. Although our ability to characterize the transport behaviors of multiple-motor systems has improved substantially, many aspects of multiple-motor dynamics are poorly understood. This work describes a transition rate model that predicts the load-dependent transport behaviors of multiple-motor complexes from detailed measurements of a single motor's elastic and mechanochemical properties. Transition rates are parameterized via analyses of single-motor stepping behaviors, load-rate-dependent motor-filament detachment kinetics, and strain-induced stiffening of motor-cargo linkages. The model reproduces key signatures found in optical trapping studies of structurally defined complexes composed of two kinesin motors, and predicts that multiple kinesins generally have difficulties in cooperating together. Although such behavior is influenced by the spatiotemporal dependence of the applied load, it appears to be directly linked to the efficiency of kinesin's stepping mechanism, and other types of less efficient and weaker processive motors are predicted to cooperate more productively. Thus, the mechanochemical efficiencies of different motor types may determine how effectively they cooperate together, and hence how motor copy number contributes to the regulation of cargo motion.

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