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Motor transport in bio-nano systems

in parallel. However, when several motors move along the same track, they start to bump into each other and to form molecular traffic jams. These jams are similar to the jams on our highways but there are also important differences. First, the molecular motors cannot 'see' other motors and their cargo before they bump into them. Second, in contrast to our cars, which cannot leave the highway when they are caught in a jam, the molecular motors can unbind from the filament and, thus, escape into the third dimension.

In order to study these complex patterns of movements, the Max Planck researchers have developed new theoretical models which are based on the known properties of single motors and which enable them to study the cooperative behavior of many motors and their interactions. In the framework of these models, one can determine the functional dependence of the motor transport on the compartment geometry and on the arrangement of the filaments. Two particularly interesting architectures are uniaxial arrangements of filaments within tube-like compartments, which resemble axons of nerve cells, see Figure 2, and radial arrangements of filaments within disk-like compartments, which resemble large cells adhering to a substrate surface.

Surprisingly, the geometry of the system has a rather strong effect on the build-up of traffic jams. In uniaxial systems, traffic jams cannot be avoided as one increases the number of motors involved in the cargo transport. In radial systems, on the other hand, jams can be avoided, to a large extent, provided the motors leave the filament sufficiently fast after they have reached its 'plus' end. However, both types of systems exhibit a characteristic, intermediate motor concentration for which the cargo transport is optimal. With the models the researchers can predict how this optimal motor concentration depends on the single motor properties.

The theoretical results are in agreement with the available experimen
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Source:Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


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