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Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2009 Aug;80(2 Pt 1):021929. Epub 2009 Aug 24.

Cooperative molecular motors moving back and forth.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, Ben Gurion University, Be'er Sheva 84105, Israel.


We use a two-state ratchet model to study the cooperative bidirectional motion of molecular motors on cytoskeletal tracks with randomly alternating polarities. Our model is based on a previously proposed model [Badoual, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 99, 6696 (2002)] for collective motor dynamics and, in addition, takes into account the cooperativity effect arising from the elastic tension that develops in the cytoskeletal track due to the joint action of the walking motors. We show, both computationally and analytically, that this additional cooperativity effect leads to a dramatic reduction in the characteristic reversal time of the bidirectional motion, especially in systems with a large number of motors. We also find that bidirectional motion takes place only on (almost) apolar tracks, while on even slightly polar tracks the cooperative motion is unidirectional. We argue that the origin of these observations is the sensitive dependence of the cooperative dynamics on the difference between the number of motors typically working in and against the instantaneous direction of motion.

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