Single-molecule motility: Statistical analysis and the effects of track length on quantification of processive motion

Andrew R. Thompson, Gregory J. Hoeprich, Christopher L. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


In vitro, single-molecule motility assays allow for the direct characterization of molecular motor properties including stepping velocity and characteristic run length. Although application of these techniques in vivo is feasible, the challenges involved in sample preparation, as well as the added complexity of the cell and its systems, result in a reduced ability to collect large datasets, as well as difficulty in simultaneous observation of the components of the motility system, namely motor and track. To address these challenges, we have developed simulations to characterize motility datasets as a function of sample size, processive run length of the motor, and distribution of track lengths. We introduce the use of a simple bootstrapping technique that allows for the quantification of measurement uncertainty and a Monte Carlo permutation resampling scheme for the measurement of statistical significance and the estimation of required sample size. In addition, we have found that, despite conventional wisdom, the measured characteristic run length is directly coupled to the characteristic track length that describes the microtubule length distribution. To be able to make comparisons between motility experiments performed on different track populations as well as make measurements of motility when motors and tracks cannot be simultaneously resolved, we have developed a theoretical framework for the determination of the effect that track length has on observed characteristic run lengths. This shows good agreement with in vitro motility experiments on two kinesin constructs walking on microtubule populations of different characteristic track lengths.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2651-2661
Number of pages11
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 18 2013

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