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Volume 18,     Number 3,     Fall 2010

 

NECK-LINKER TENSION AND THE
LOCOMOTION OF KINESIN ALONG
MICROTUBULES
PETER W. BATES AND ZHIYUAN JIA

Abstract. This paper concerns the detailed modeling of kinesin locomotion along microtubules. Experimentalists have inserted polymers into the neck-linkers of kinesin, extending their lengths and changing their flexibility. Observations of the progression of these mutants along microtubules provide some insight into the mechanisms of locomotion. We formulate a mathematical model of this locomotion that takes into account the rates of various biochemical processes, orientation-dependent binding affinities, and the entropic forces involved in the constrained random walk of a tethered head. Our analysis and simulation of the model with neck-linkers of varying lengths indicate that the processivity of kinesin is obtained through the coordination of the chemical states of two heads, which is regulated by the tension in neck-linkers. We find that both front-gating and rear-gating mechanisms are required for processivity consistent with experimental evidence.

 

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