Teamwork in microtubule motors

Roop Mallik, Arpan K. Rai, Pradeep Barak, Ashim Rai, Ambarish Kunwar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Diverse cellular processes are driven by the collective force from multiple motor proteins. Disease-causing mutations cause aberrant function of motors, but the impact is observed at a cellular level and beyond, therefore necessitating an understanding of cell mechanics at the level of motor molecules. One way to do this is by measuring the force generated by ensembles of motors in vivo at single-motor resolution. This has been possible for microtubule motor teams that transport intracellular organelles, revealing unexpected differences between collective and single-molecule function. Here we review how the biophysical properties of single motors, and differences therein, may translate into collective motor function during organelle transport and perhaps in other processes outside transport.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-582
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
R.M. acknowledges funding through an International Senior Research Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust UK (grant WT079214MA) and a Wellcome Trust–Department of Biotechnology Senior Fellowship (grant IA/S/11/2500255). A.K. acknowledges support by the Industrial Research and Consultancy Centre at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay.


  • Cooperative forces inside cells
  • Dynein
  • Dynein gear
  • In vivo optical trapping
  • Kinesin
  • Organelle transport


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