Kinesin in a Cell-Like Environment



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Motor proteins turn chemical energy into mechanical energy for movement. Kinesin is a type of motor protein that acts as a carrier of various components within the cell. An important factor in its movement is how it attaches to microtubules, which is affected by the presence of crowders in vivo. Many simulations meant to study kinesin do not take the presence of crowders into account, and when they do, they often use crowders of the wrong size. We hypothesize that the presence of crowders will increase kinesin-microtubule affinity, and test this hypothesis by using GROMACS to measure the potential mean force of kinesin with and without crowders. Ultimately we find that indeed the presence of crowders affects the binding of kinesin to microtubules, and believe that taking this into account is essential to the accuracy and therefore usefulness of future simulations involving kinesin. This project was completed with contributions form Qian Wang from the Rice University Department of Physics.