Switching of myosin-V motion between the lever-arm swing and brownian search-and-catch

Nat Commun. 2012 Jul 17;3:956. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1934.


Motor proteins are force-generating nanomachines that are highly adaptable to their ever-changing biological environments and have a high energy conversion efficiency. Here we constructed an imaging system that uses optical tweezers and a DNA handle to visualize elementary mechanical processes of a nanomachine under load. We apply our system to myosin-V, a well-known motor protein that takes 72 nm 'hand-over-hand' steps composed of a 'lever-arm swing' and a 'brownian search-and-catch'. We find that the lever-arm swing generates a large proportion of the force at low load (<0.5 pN), resulting in 3 k(B)T of work. At high load (1.9 pN), however, the contribution of the brownian search-and-catch increases to dominate, reaching 13 k(B)T of work. We believe the ability to switch between these two force-generation modes facilitates myosin-V function at high efficiency while operating in a dynamic intracellular environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Digoxigenin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Myosin Type V / chemistry*
  • Myosin Type V / genetics
  • Myosin Type V / metabolism
  • Optical Tweezers


  • Myosin Type V
  • Digoxigenin