Publication Type:

Journal Article


Applied Nanoscience, Springer, Volume 2, Number 3, p.333–338 (2012)


Actin-based motility of Listeria monocytogenes propelled by filament end-tracking molecular motors has been simulated. Such systems may act as potential nanoscale actuators and shuttles useful in sorting and sensing biomolecules. Filaments are modeled as three-dimensional elastic springs distributed on one end of the capsule and persistently attached to the motile bacterial surface through an end-tracking motor complex. Filament distribution is random, and monomer concentration decreases linearly as a function of position on the bacterial surface. Filament growth rate increases with monomer concentration but decreases with the extent of compression. The growing filaments exert push–pull forces on the bacterial surface. In addition to forces, torques arise due to two factors—distribution of motors on the bacterial surface, and coupling of torsion upon growth due to the right-handed helicity of F-actin—causing the motile object to undergo simultaneous translation and rotation. The trajectory of the bacterium is simulated by performing a force and torque balance on the bacterium. All simulations use a fixed value of torsion. Simulations show strong alignment of the filaments and the long axis of the bacterium along the direction of motion. In the absence of torsion, the bacterial surface essentially moves along the direction of the long axis. When a small amount of the torsion is applied to the bacterial surface, the bacterium is seen to move in righthanded helical trajectories, consistent with experimental observations.

Cite this Research Publication

S. Pramod Upadyayula and Rangarajan, M., “Actin-based motility propelled by molecular motors”, Applied Nanoscience, vol. 2, pp. 333–338, 2012.