Creating biomolecular motors based on dynein and actin-binding proteins

Nat Nanotechnol. 2017 Mar;12(3):233-237. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2016.238. Epub 2016 Nov 14.


Biomolecular motors such as myosin, kinesin and dynein are protein machines that can drive directional movement along cytoskeletal tracks and have the potential to be used as molecule-sized actuators. Although control of the velocity and directionality of biomolecular motors has been achieved, the design and construction of novel biomolecular motors remains a challenge. Here we show that naturally occurring protein building blocks from different cytoskeletal systems can be combined to create a new series of biomolecular motors. We show that the hybrid motors-combinations of a motor core derived from the microtubule-based dynein motor and non-motor actin-binding proteins-robustly drive the sliding movement of an actin filament. Furthermore, the direction of actin movement can be reversed by simply changing the geometric arrangement of these building blocks. Our synthetic strategy provides an approach to fabricating biomolecular machines that work along artificial tracks at nanoscale dimensions.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry*
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Dyneins / chemistry*
  • Dyneins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Microfilament Proteins / chemistry*
  • Microfilament Proteins / genetics


  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Dyneins