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Biophys J. 2016 Nov 15;111(10):2228-2240. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2016.09.046.

Cargo Transport by Two Coupled Myosin Va Motors on Actin Filaments and Bundles.

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Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. Electronic address:
J. Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont.


Myosin Va (myoVa) is a processive, actin-based molecular motor essential for intracellular cargo transport. When a cargo is transported by an ensemble of myoVa motors, each motor faces significant physical barriers and directional challenges created by the complex actin cytoskeleton, a network of actin filaments and actin bundles. The principles that govern the interaction of multiple motors attached to the same cargo are still poorly understood. To understand the mechanical interactions between multiple motors, we developed a simple in vitro model in which two individual myoVa motors labeled with different-colored Qdots are linked via a third Qdot that acts as a cargo. The velocity of this two-motor complex was reduced by 27% as compared to a single motor, whereas run length was increased by only 37%, much less than expected from multimotor transport models. Therefore, at low ATP, which allowed us to identify individual motor steps, we investigated the intermotor dynamics within the two-motor complex. The randomness of stepping leads to a buildup of tension in the linkage between motors-which in turn slows down the leading motor-and increases the frequency of backward steps and the detachment rate. We establish a direct relationship between the velocity reduction and the distribution of intermotor distances. The analysis of run lengths and dwell times for the two-motor complex, which has only one motor engaged with the actin track, reveals that half of the runs are terminated by almost simultaneous detachment of both motors. This finding challenges the assumptions of conventional multimotor models based on consecutive motor detachment. Similar, but even more drastic, results were observed with two-motor complexes on actin bundles, which showed a run length that was even shorter than that of a single motor.

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