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Comput Biol Med. 2013 Jul;43(6):758-64. doi: 10.1016/j.compbiomed.2013.03.009. Epub 2013 Mar 29.

Protein transport in the connecting cilium of a photoreceptor cell: modeling the effects of bidirectional protein transitions between the diffusion-driven and motor-driven kinetic states.

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Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7910, USA.


Physics of protein transport through the connecting cilium (CC) of a photoreceptor cell is a long-standing question in cellular biology. There is evidence implicating both molecular motor-driven and diffusion-driven modes of intracellular transport. Based on available experimental clues, this paper develops a new model for intraflagellar transport (IFT) of proteins synthesized in the inner segment and transported through the CC to the outer segment of a photoreceptor cell. The model accounts for the competition between two modes of protein transport: molecular motor-driven transport and diffusion. The obtained solutions made it possible to calculate how the number of protein molecules transported through the CC at a given time depends on their diffusivity. Modeling results were compared with published experimental estimates, and conclusions about possible contributions of diffusion to IFT were made.

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