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FUNDING

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Cooperative cargo transport
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The cytoskeleton is a filamentous network found in cells which maintains cell shape, aids in cell motion, and plays a key role in intracellular transport and cell division. It is made up of microtubules, actin and intermediate filaments, which together provide shape and mechanical integrity for the cell. These filaments also serve as cargo tracks, and sometimes they get deformed and transported by molecular motors as well[1].

In order to better understand cooperative cargo transport on these tracks, we develop coarse-grained simulations of gliding and bead assays. In collaboration with
Ross Lab, we study how kinesin-1 motors cooperatively transport cargo under crowded conditions[2]. Together with Hancock Lab, we model gliding assays and develop quantitative models of microtubule gliding and bending. It is important to understand such simple in vitro systems in order to develop a better understanding of microtubule-based cooperative cargo transport in living cells.

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An excellent example of cooperative organelle motility in vivo is chloroplast transport moss Physcomitrella patens. Research in simple plant cells such as mosses is of growing interest in particular due their advantages as model organisms in studying drought tolerance and bio-energy applications. Moss provides genetics similar to yeast and excellent imaging capabilities. In collaboration with Vidali Lab at WPI, we study the fundamental mechanisms of this novel transport mechanism that is critical for survival, since plants require a chloroplast relocation response to avoid the damaging effect of excessive light on the photosynthetic machinery[3].

[1]. "Anterograde microtubule transport drives microtubule bending in LLC-PK1 epithelial cells", A. D. Bicek*, E. Tüzel*, A. Demtchouk, M. Uppalapati , W. O. Hancock, D. M. Kroll, and D. J. Odde,
Mol. Biol. Cell. 20, 2943 (2009). *These authors contributed equally to this work.
[2]. “Motor transport of self-assembled cargos in crowded environments”, L. Conway, D. Wood, E. Tüzel, J. L. Ross,
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109, 20814-20819 (2012). Featured in Science Daily and WPI Research Blog.
[3]. "Chloroplast movement", M. Wada, T. Kagawa, Y. Sato, (2003). .
Ann. Rev. Plant Bio. 54, 455–468 (2003).