Directing the Translational Motion of Motor Proteins in Synthetic Environments: Learning How to Build Molecular Shuttles

Viola Vogel*, John R. Dennis*, and Jonathan Howard#

Department of Bioengineering*and Department of Physiology and Biophysics#, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA


Whereas the static architecture of many self-assembled macromolecular or supramolecular complexes can be controlled, much less is known how to have dynamic control over the spatial arrangement of molecular building blocks. Nature has evolved specialized molecules, namely motor proteins, to actively transport molecules over long distances and against concentration gradients. Our research is aimed at learning how to control the translational motion of motor proteins in non-biological environments in order to transport cargo between user-specified locations. Results will be presented where shear deposited polymer films have been used successfully to guide the motion of microtubules on surfaces. This and other data indicate that the topography of polymers or thin polymer coatings can be utilized to control the direction in which biological motors move. The underlying molecular mechanism of directed motion will be discussed.