Building cells for quantitative, live-cell analyses of collective motor protein functions

Eric A. Kumar, David Tsao, Anand Radhakrishnan, Michael Diehl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Examining the collective mechanical behaviors of interacting cytoskeletal motors has become increasingly important to dissecting the complex and multifaceted mechanisms that regulate the transport and trafficking of materials in cells. Although studying these processes in living cells has been challenging, the development of new Synthetic Biology techniques has opened unique opportunities to both manipulate and probe how these motors function in groups as they navigate the native cytoskeleton. Here, we describe an approach to engineer mammalian cells for a new class of inducible cargo motility assays that utilize drug-dependent protein dimerization switches to regulate motor-cargo coupling and transport. Our adaptations provide genetic-level control over the densities of motor proteins coupled to, as well as the sizes of endogenous vesicular cargos in these assays. By allowing the examination of transport responses to changes in motor density and cargo size-dependent viscous drag force, such control can enable quantitative comparisons of mechanistic distinctions between the collective behaviors of different types of processive cytoskeletal motors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalMethods in Cell Biology
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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