Cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin-1 are microtubule-based motors with opposite polarity that transport a wide variety of cargo in eukaryotic cells. Many cellular cargos demonstrate bidirectional movement due to the presence of ensembles of dynein and kinesin, but are ultimately sorted with spatial and temporal precision. To investigate the mechanisms that coordinate motor ensemble behavior, we built a programmable synthetic cargo using three-dimensional DNA origami to which varying numbers of DNA oligonucleotide-linked motors could be attached, allowing for control of motor type, number, spacing, and orientation in vitro. In ensembles of one to seven identical-polarity motors, motor number had minimal affect on directional velocity, whereas ensembles of opposite-polarity motors engaged in a tug-of-war resolvable by disengaging one motor species.
Derr, N. D.; Goodman, B. S.; Jungmann, R.; Leschziner, A. E.; Shih, W. M.; and Reck-Peterson, S. L., "Tug-of-War in Motor Protein Ensembles Revealed with a Programmable DNA Origami Scaffold" (2012). Biological Sciences: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.