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J Phys Condens Matter. 2011 Sep 21;23(37):374106. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/23/37/374106. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

Conformational changes, diffusion and collective behavior in monomeric kinesin-based motility.

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Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Molecular motors convert chemical energy into mechanical motion and power the transport of material within living cells; the motion of a motor is thought to be influenced by stochastic chemical state transitions of the molecule as well as intramolecular diffusion of one motor head seeking the next binding site. Existing models for the motility of single-headed monomeric motors that map the system to a simplified two-state Brownian ratchet have some predictive power, but in general are unable to elucidate the contributions of different molecular level processes to the overall effective parameters. In this work, we build a detailed molecular level model of monomeric kinesin motility that naturally incorporates conformational changes (power strokes) and biased diffusion. Our results predict that mean velocity is most sensitive to the power stroke size, while run length distribution is sensitive primarily to the strength of the microtubule bias potential with a weak dependence on power stroke that can be tuned by the strength of an applied load. In addition, we demonstrate that motor pairs attached to the same cargo can cooperatively function to increase motility in both the plus- and minus-end directions. These findings illustrate the importance of a detailed mechanochemical model for dissecting the contributions of microscopic parameters to monomeric kinesin dynamics.

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