Monte Carlo simulations of single and coupled synthetic molecular motors

C. M. Chen*, M. Zuckermann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We use a minimal model to study the processive motion of coupled synthetic molecular motors along a DNA track and we present data from Monte Carlo (MC) computer simulations based on this model. The model was originally proposed by Bromley for studying the properties of a synthetic protein motor, the "Tumbleweed" (TW), and involves rigid Y-shaped motors diffusively rotating along the track while controlled by a series of periodically injected ligand pulses into the solution. The advantage of the model is that it mimics the mechanical properties of the TW motor in detail. Both the average first passage time which measures the diffusive motion of the motors, and the average dwell time on the track which measures their processivity are investigated by varying the parameters of the model. The latter includes ligand concentration and the range and strength of the binding interaction between motors and the track. In particular, it is of experimental interest to study the dependence of these dynamic time scales of the motors on the ligand concentration. Single rigid TW motors were first studied since no previous MC simulations of these motors have been performed. We first studied single motors for which we found a logarithmic decrease of the average first passage time and a logarithmic increase of the average dwell time with increasing ligand concentration. For two coupled motors, the dependence on ligand concentration is still logarithmic for the average first passage time but becomes linear for the average dwell time. This suggests a much greater stability in the processive motion of coupled motors as compared to single motors in the limit of large ligand concentration. By increasing the number of coupled motors, m, it was found that the average first passage time of the coupled motors only increases slowly with m while the average dwell time increases exponentially with m. Thus the stability of coupled motors on the track can be considerably enhanced by their cooperative motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051905
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 5

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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