The lever arm effects a mechanical asymmetry of the myosin-V-actin bond

J. Christof M. Gebhardt, Zeynep Ökten, Matthias Rief

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Myosin-V is a two-headed molecular motor taking multiple ATP-dependent steps toward the plus end (forward) of actin filaments. At high mechanical loads, the motor processively steps toward the minus end (backward) even in the absence of ATP, whereas analogous forward steps cannot be induced. The detailed mechanism underlying this mechanical asymmetry is not known. We investigate the effect of force on individual single headed myosin-V constructs bound to actin in the absence of ATP. If pulled forward, the myosin-V head dissociates at forces twice as high than if pulled backward. Moreover, backward but not forward distances to the unbinding barrier are dependent on the lever arm length. This asymmetry of unbinding force distributions in a single headed myosin forms the basis of the two-headed asymmetry. Under load, the lever arm functions as a true lever in a mechanical sense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-281
Number of pages5
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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