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Review Article

Kinesin and dynein mechanics: measurement methods and research applications

[+] Author and Article Information
Zachary Abraham

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
zxa43@case.edu

Emma Hawley

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
elh70@case.edu

Daniel Hayosh

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
dgh37@case.edu

Victoria Webster-Wood

ASME Member, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, OH, 44106

Webster-wood@case.edu
vaw4@case.edu

Ozan Akkus

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
oxa@case.edu

1Corresponding author.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4037886 History: Received July 02, 2017; Revised September 07, 2017

Abstract

Motor proteins play critical roles in the normal function of cells and proper development of organisms. Among motor proteins, failings in the normal function of two types of proteins, kinesin and dynein, have been shown to lead many pathologies, including neurodegenerative diseases and cancers. As such, it is critical for researchers to understand the underlying mechanics and behaviors of these proteins, not only to shed light on how failures may lead to disease, but also to guide research towards novel treatment and nanoengineering solutions. To this end, many experimental techniques have been developed to measure the force and motility capabilities of these proteins. This review will: a) discuss such techniques, specifically microscopy, atomic force microscopy, optical trapping, and magnetic tweezers, and, b) the resulting nanomechanical properties of motor protein functions such as stalling force, velocity and dependence on ATP concentrations will be comparatively discussed. Additionally, this review will highlight the clinical importance of these proteins. Furthermore, as the understanding of the structure and function of motor proteins improves, novel applications are emerging in the field. Specifically, researchers have begun to modify the structure of existing proteins, thereby engineering novel elements to alter and improve native motor protein function, or even allow the motor proteins to perform entirely new tasks as parts of nanomachines. Kinesin and dynein are vital elements for the proper function of cells. While many exciting experiments have shed light on their function, mechanics, and applications, additional research is needed to completely understand their behavior.

Copyright (c) 2017 by ASME
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