Multiple kinesins induce tension for smooth cargo transport

Marco Tjioe, Saurabh Shukla, Rohit Vaidya, Alice Troitskaia, Carol Bookwalter, Kathleen M. Trybus, Yann R. Chemla, Paul R. Selvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How cargoes move within a crowded cell—over long distances and at speeds nearly the same as when moving on unimpeded pathway—has long been mysterious. Through an in vitro force-gliding assay, which involves measuring nanometer displacement and piconewtons of force, we show that multiple mammalian kinesin-1 (from 2-8) communicate in a team by inducing tension (up to 4 pN) on the cargo. Kinesins adopt two distinct states, with one-third slowing down the microtubule and two-thirds speeding it up. Resisting kinesins tend to come off more rapidly than, and speed up when pulled by driving kinesins, implying an asymmetric tug-of-war. Furthermore, kinesins dynamically interact to overcome roadblocks, occasionally combining their forces. Consequently, multiple kinesins acting as a team may play a significant role in facilitating smooth cargo motion in a dense environment. This is one of few cases in which single molecule behavior can be connected to ensemble behavior of multiple motors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere50974
StatePublished - Oct 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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