Collective alignment of polar filaments by molecular motors

F. Ziebert, M. Vershinin, S. P. Gross, I. S. Aranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We study the alignment of polar biofilaments, such as microtubules and actin, subject to the action of multiple molecular motors attached simultaneously to more than one filament. Focusing on a paradigm model of only two filaments interacting with multiple motors, we were able to investigate in detail the alignment dynamics. While almost no alignment occurs in the case of a single motor, the filaments become rapidly aligned due to the collective action of the motors. Our analysis shows that the alignment time is governed by the number of bound motors and the magnitude of the motors' stepping fluctuations. We predict that the time scale of alignment is in the order of seconds, much faster than that reported for passive crosslink-induced bundling. In vitro experiments on the alignment of microtubules by multiple-motor covered beads are in qualitative agreement. We also discuss another mode of fast alignment of filaments, namely the cooperation between motors and passive crosslinks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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