Motor Protein Transport Along Inhomogeneous Microtubules

S. D. Ryan, Z. McCarthy, M. Potomkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Many cellular processes rely on the cell’s ability to transport material to and from the nucleus. Networks consisting of many microtubules and actin filaments are key to this transport. Recently, the inhibition of intracellular transport has been implicated in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Furthermore, microtubules may contain so-called defective regions where motor protein velocity is reduced due to accumulation of other motors and microtubule-associated proteins. In this work, we propose a new mathematical model describing the motion of motor proteins on microtubules which incorporate a defective region. We take a mean-field approach derived from a first principle lattice model to study motor protein dynamics and density profiles. In particular, given a set of model parameters we obtain a closed-form expression for the equilibrium density profile along a given microtubule. We then verify the analytic results using mathematical analysis on the discrete model and Monte Carlo simulations. This work will contribute to the fundamental understanding of inhomogeneous microtubules providing insight into microscopic interactions that may result in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases. Our results for inhomogeneous microtubules are consistent with prior work studying the homogeneous case.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9
JournalBulletin of Mathematical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Immunology
  • Mathematics(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pharmacology
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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