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Individual molecular motors use low forces to bypass roadblocks during collective cargo transport

Citation

Shukla, Saurabh; Selvin, Paul (2021), Individual molecular motors use low forces to bypass roadblocks during collective cargo transport, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rfj6q578z

Abstract

A cargo encounters many obstacles during its transport by molecular motors as it moves throughout the cell. Multiple motors on the cargo exert forces to steer the cargo to its destination. Measuring these forces is essential for understanding intracellular transport. Using kinesin as an example, we measured the force exerted by multiple stationary kinesins in vitro, driving a common microtubule. We find that individual kinesins generally exert less than a piconewton (pN) of force, even while bypassing obstacles, whether these are artificially placed 20-100 nm particles or tau, a Microtubule Associated Protein. We demonstrate that when a kinesin encounters an obstacle, the kinesin either becomes dislodged or switches protofilaments while the other kinesins continue to apply their (sub-)pN forces. By designing a high-throughput assay involving nanometer-resolved multicolor-fluorescence and a force-sensor able to measure picoNewtons of force, our technique is expected to be useful for many different types of molecular motors.

Methods

Dataset was collected with the TIRF microscope and processed with the in-house MATLAB code.

Funding

National Institutes of Health