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Dynamics of single molecular motors labeled to quantum dots in a living cell

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The study of molecular motors has greatly benefited, at both an experimental and conceptual level, from the development of single-molecule experiments. How the in vitro experiments relate to the properties and functional role of individual motors in living cells, however, remains unexplored, largely due to a lack of experimental methods to detect individual cytoplasmic proteins in vivo. Here, we measured the in vivo velocity and processivity distributions of individual molecular motors (kinesin) labeled with quantum dots in the cytoplasm of living HeLa cells. By directly comparing the results with those of in vitro motility assays, we found that the kinesin motion was not affected by the conditions in the cytosol. Furthermore, we observed that an individual kinesin could travel over several microns through a succession of phases of directed and diffusive motion. Our measurements demonstrate the importance of single-molecule experiments in the investigation of intracellular traffic and offer new prospects for the study of complex biological process such as cell division.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.

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