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Motor transport in bio-nano systems

two different ends, a 'plus' end and a 'minus' end. In Figure 1, the filaments are arranged in such a way that all 'plus' ends point into the same direction. Such an arrangement provides many parallel tracks for the molecular motors and, thus, represents a multi-lane highway in the nanoregime. Using such a biomimetic model system, scientists can study the transport properties in a quantitative manner, identify useful control parameters, and determine the functional dependence of the transport properties on these parameters. This is the only possible strategy to obtain the basic knowledge that is necessary to improve the system design and to optimize its performance.

We now have a basic understanding of the behavior of single motors. These motors are dimeric proteins with two legs, which make discrete steps along the filament. Each step corresponds to a motor displacement of about 10 nanometers, comparable to the size of its legs. In one second, the motor makes about 100 steps which leads to a velocity of about one micrometer per second. The absolute value of this velocity is not very impressive, but relative to its size, the motor molecule moves very fast: indeed, on the macroscopic scale, its movement would correspond to an athlete who runs 200 meters in one second! This is even more surprising if one realizes that the motor moves in a very viscous environment since it steadily undergoes many collisions with a large number of water molecules. Because of these collisions, the molecular motor has a finite run length: After a few seconds, it unbinds from its track and performs random Brownian motion in the surrounding water until it rebinds to the same or another filament.

In order to understand the motor traffic in biological cells and in biomimetic systems, it is necessary to go beyond the single motor level and consider the cooperative behavior of many motors. To obtain a large flux of cargo transport, it is obviously useful to let many motors work
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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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