Single-molecule biophysics research group

University of California, Berkeley


Mechanism of Cytoplasmic Dynein Motility


Cytoplasmic dynein is a AAA motor that transports a variety of intracellular cargo towards the microtubule minus-end in eukaryotic cells. Compared to other cytoskeletal motors (kinesin and myosin), the mechanism of dynein motility is significantly less understood due to its large size and complexity. We showed that dynein motility differs significantly from kinesin and myosin in many aspects. By using single molecule high resolution tracking, FRET and optical trap microscopy, we are aiming to dissect the detailed mechanism of dynein processivity, directionality and force production. In addition, we introduce specific mutations in the motor domain and test the role of each subunit in dynein mechanism.

Dynein carrying a bead

Figure 1. Artistic depiction of a dynein molecule carrying cargo down a microtubule.

  Relevant papers
  • Mark A. Dewitt, Amy Y. Chang, Peter A. Combs, and Ahmet Yildiz. Cytoplasmic Dynein Moves Through Uncoordinated Stepping of the AAA+ Ring Domains. 2012. Science 335, 221. pdf

  • Samara L. Reck-Peterson, Ahmet Yildiz, Andrew P. Carter, Arne Gennerich, Nan Zhang, Ronald D. Vale. Single-Molecule Analysis of Dynein Processivity and Stepping Behavior. 2006. Cell 126, 335. pdf