Ajay Gopinathan and Braulio Gutiérrez-Medina: Monomeric Kinesin Motors
Snapshot of a kinesin hinge monomer
Simulation snapshot of a kinesin hinge monomer showing the unstructured region (gray) that gives the hinge its flexibility.(Courtesy Amanda Miguel and Ajay Gopinathan)

Ajay Gopinathan from the School of Natural Sciences at UC Merced and Braulio Gutiérrez-Medina from IPICYT’s División Materiales Avanzados received a 2010 UC MEXUS-CONACYT collaborative research grant and the George E. Brown, Jr. Award for their biophysics project on the emergent co-operativity among multiple monomeric kinesin motors. Their joint research resulted in the construction and testing of a laser-based optical trapping instrument (optical tweezers) to perform the planned experiments as well as the development of a detailed mechano-chemical simulation model for monomeric kinesin. The optical trapping set-up is now being used to study different kinesin constructs including monomeric ones with the goal of looking for co-operative behavior predicted by the model. The initial findings are described in "A Minimal Optical Trapping and Imaging Microscopy System" published in PLoS ONE1 and in “Conformational changes, diffusion and collective behavior in monomeric kinesin based motility,” published in the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter2. The preliminary results also led to a subsequent NSF theoretical biology grant to explore stochastic transport in biology and a CONACYT grant to continue experiments using optical tweezers. Future plans for Gopinathan and Gutiérrez-Medina include studying transport in multiple dimeric motor systems and the role of unstructured regions in single motor function. For additional information please consult Dr. Gopinathan’s or Dr. Gutiérrez-Medina’s websites or their collaborative grant page.

1Hernández Candia CN, Tafoya Martínez S, Gutiérrez-Medina B (2013) "A Minimal Optical Trapping and Imaging Microscopy System.", PLoS ONE 8(2): e57383.

2K.C. Huang, C. Vega and Ajay Gopinathan (2011) "Conformational changes, diffusion and collective behavior in monomeric kinesin based motility", J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 23 (2011) 374106.

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Simulation of a kinesin hinge dimer showing how the unstructured regions of the monomers coil around each other in the dimer.(Courtesy Amanda Miguel and Ajay Gopinathan)