Volume 81, Number 1, January 2008
Article Number 18001
Number of page(s) 6
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 20 November 2007
EPL, 81 (2008) 18001
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/81/18001

Hitchhiking through the cytoplasm

I. M. Kulic and P. C. Nelson

Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia - PA 19104, USA

received 3 April 2007; accepted in final form 29 October 2007; published January 2008
published online 20 November 2007

We propose an alternative mechanism for intracellular cargo transport which results from motor-induced longitudinal fluctuations of cytoskeletal microtubules (MTs). The longitudinal fluctuations combined with transient cargo binding to the MTs lead to long-range transport even for cargos and vesicles having no molecular motors on them. The proposed transport mechanism, which we call "hitchhiking", provides a possible explanation for the broadly observed yet still mysterious phenomenon of bidirectional transport along MTs. We show that cells exploiting the hitchhiking mechanism can effectively up- and down-regulate the transport of different vesicles by tuning their binding kinetics to characteristic MT oscillation frequencies.

87.15.Kg - Molecular interactions; membrane-protein interactions.
87.16.-b - Subcellular structure and processes.
82.37.Rs - Single molecule manipulation of proteins and other biological molecules.

© EPLA 2008