Stochastic dynamics of small ensembles of non-processive molecular motors: the parallel cluster model
Authors: Erdmann T1, Albert PJ, Schwarz US.
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: J Chem Phys. 2013 Nov 7;139(17):175104.

Non-processive molecular motors have to work together in ensembles in order to generate appreciable levels of force or movement. In skeletal muscle, for example, hundreds of myosin II molecules cooperate in thick filaments. In non-muscle cells, by contrast, small groups with few tens of non-muscle myosin II motors contribute to essential cellular processes such as transport, shape changes, or mechanosensing. Here we introduce a detailed and analytically tractable model for this important situation. Using a three-state crossbridge model for the myosin II motor cycle and exploiting the assumptions of fast power stroke kinetics and equal load sharing between motors in equivalent states, we reduce the stochastic reaction network to a one-step master equation for the binding and unbinding dynamics (parallel cluster model) and derive the rules for ensemble movement. We find that for constant external load, ensemble dynamics is strongly shaped by the catch bond character of myosin II, which leads to an increase of the fraction of bound motors under load and thus to firm attachment even for small ensembles. This adaptation to load results in a concave force-velocity relation described by a Hill relation. For external load provided by a linear spring, myosin II ensembles dynamically adjust themselves towards an isometric state with constant average position and load. The dynamics of the ensembles is now determined mainly by the distribution of motors over the different kinds of bound states. For increasing stiffness of the external spring, there is a sharp transition beyond which myosin II can no longer perform the power stroke. Slow unbinding from the pre-power-stroke state protects the ensembles against detachment.