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Research Paper

Molecular Motors as Components of Future Medical Devices and Engineered Materials

[+] Author and Article Information
Ashutosh Agarwal, Henry Hess

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

J. Nanotechnol. Eng. Med 1(1), 011005 (Oct 06, 2009) (9 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3212823 History: Received May 15, 2009; Revised May 26, 2009; Published October 06, 2009

A new frontier in the development of prosthetic devices is the design of nanoscale systems which replace, augment, or support individual cells. Similar to cells, such devices will require the ability to generate mechanical movement, either for transport or actuation. Here, the development of nanoscale transport systems, which integrate biomolecular motors, is reviewed. To date, close to 100 publications have explored the design of such “molecular shuttles” based on the integration of synthetic molecules, nano- and microparticles, and micropatterned structures with kinesin and myosin motors and their associated cytoskeletal filaments, microtubules, and actin filaments. Tremendous progress has been made in addressing the key challenges of guiding, loading, and controlling the shuttles, providing a foundation for the exploration of applications in medicine and engineering.

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Figure 1

Molecular shuttles are one example of hybrid microdevices utilizing biomolecular motors. The design shown here aims to achieve controlled transport of nanoscale cargo by immobilizing kinesin motors in tracks and utilizing the functionalized microtubules gliding on these motors as cargo carrying elements. Reproduced with permission from Ref. 24. Copyright 2003, American Chemical Society.

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Figure 2

Approaches to confine filament motility: (a) physical confinement—filaments hitting the channel wall get redirected in the direction of the channel axis. However, aligned filaments can gradually climb the wall. If the surface chemistry of walls is designed to interfere with adsorption or functioning of motors, filaments can only glide on the bottom surface (combined confinement), (b) chemical confinement—motility restriction is obtained by contrast in active surface motor density between adjacent surfaces, (c) confinement due to semi-enclosed channels—excellent guiding is achieved by the undercut regions discovered in Ref. 24, and (d) confinement within totally enclosed channels—introduced in Ref. 36 and improved in Ref. 37, enclosed channels do not allow any escape of filaments.

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Figure 3

Designs of track elements. (a) A ratchet pattern used to obtain counterclockwise motion of filaments (18,29). (b) A linear rectifier, where filaments moving upwards are unaffected in their direction of motion and filaments going downwards are redirected upwards (27,34). (c) A concentrator capable of trapping filaments (31). (d) Alignment of gliding filaments by fluid flow (16-17,63,65-66). (e) Alignment of gliding filaments by electric fields (28,38,67,69).

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Figure 4

Recent advances in development of schemes for loading cargo onto filaments. (a) Microtubules precoated with cargo in segments also support kinesin based motility. Reproduced with permission from Ref. 89. Copyright 2004, American Chemical Society. (b) Au nanoparticle linked actin and pure actin were polymerized to result in a segmented actin filament. Subsequent polymerization of Au precursors resulted in actin based Au wires which supported myosin based motility. Permission requested from Ref. 90. Copyright 2004, Nature Publishing Group. (c) Unladen microtubules walk into cargo rich “loading stations” to pick up cargo and transport them into cargo free regions. Reproduced with permission from Ref. 91. Copyright 2007, The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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Figure 5

Loading, transport, and detection of analytes. (a) Target DNA prelabeled with fluorescent tags can be selectively captured from a pool of DNA (102). (b) Virus particles and proteins can be captured by microtubules and detected by antibodies linked to fluorescent spheres or quantum dots (106-107).

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Figure 6

Control of motor activation by ATP production. (a) Caged-ATP can be locally photolyzed to ATP, which is subsequently sequestered to achieve microtubule gliding with high spatial and temporal control. Reproduced with permission from Ref. 130. Copyright 2008, American Chemical Society. (b) A microtubule-particle complex which produces ATP for consumption by the kinesin motors. Reproduced with permission from Ref. 131. Copyright 2005, Royal Society of Chemistry.

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