Asymptotic analysis of microtubule-based transport by multiple identical molecular motors

Scott A. McKinley, Avanti Athreya, John Fricks, Peter R. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We describe a system of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) which model the interaction between processive molecular motors, such as kinesin and dynein, and the biomolecular cargo they tow as part of microtubule-based intracellular transport. We show that the classical experimental environment fits within a parameter regime which is qualitatively distinct from conditions one expects to find in living cells. Through an asymptotic analysis of our system of SDEs, we develop a means for applying in vitro observations of the nonlinear response by motors to forces induced on the attached cargo to make analytical predictions for two parameter regimes that have thus far eluded direct experimental observation: (1) highly viscous in vivo transport and (2) dynamics when multiple identical motors are attached to the cargo and microtubule.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-69
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
StatePublished - Jul 21 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Molecular motors
  • Stochastic averaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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