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Publication Date


First Advisor

Nathan Derr and Adam C. Hall

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Molecular motor proteins, Dynein, DNA origami, Biophysics, Dynein ensembles, Intracellular cargo transport, Synthetic cargo, Synthetic biology, Microtubule-associated proteins, Microtubule obstacles, Axonal transport, Microtubule network, Tau, Quantum dots, DNA, Origami, Synthetic biology, Tubulins, Biological transport


Dynein is a microtubule-associated motor protein that facilitates the transport of essential cargos within the cell. Given the sheer size difference between this motor and its many cargos, dynein often works together in teams with other motor proteins to accomplish their transporting tasks. Failure of this transport system results in neurological diseases. To understand and contextualize how these malfunctions occur, we are investigating the fundamental biophysical mechanisms that drive intracellular cargo transport. To do this, we have turned to an in vitro system using DNA origami as a highly controllable synthetic cargo structure that allows us to construct and model how multiple dynein motor proteins work in a concerted effort to transport cargos. To push this experimental system toward greater biological relevance, we investigated motor ensemble transport in the presence of obstacles along the microtubule surface. Additionally, to mirror the crowded cytoskeletal intracellular environment, we performed microtubule crossing experiments to probe how precisely organized teams of motor proteins navigate through the dense microtubule network.


2018 Amalia Rose Driller-Colangelo. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




86 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) Includes bibliographical references (pages 81-86)