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Rank, Matthias; Reese, Louis and Frey, Erwin (March 2013): Cooperative effects enhance the transport properties of molecular spider teams. In: Physical Review E, Vol. 87, No. 3: 032706-1 [PDF, 899kB]


Molecular spiders are synthetic molecular motors based on DNA nanotechnology. While natural molecular motors have evolved towards very high efficiency, it remains a major challenge to develop efficient designs for man-made molecular motors. Inspired by biological motor proteins such as kinesin and myosin, molecular spiders comprise a body and several legs. The legs walk on a lattice that is coated with substrate which can be cleaved catalytically. We propose a molecular spider design in which n spiders form a team. Our theoretical considerations show that coupling several spiders together alters the dynamics of the resulting team significantly. Although spiders operate at a scale where diffusion is dominant, spider teams can be tuned to behave nearly ballistic, which results in fast and predictable motion. Based on the separation of time scales of substrate and product dwell times, we develop a theory which utilizes equivalence classes to coarse-grain the microstate space. In addition, we calculate diffusion coefficients of the spider teams, employing a mapping of an n-spider team to an n-dimensional random walker on a confined lattice. We validate these results with Monte Carlo simulations and predict optimal parameters of the molecular spider team architecture which makes their motion most directed and maximally predictable.

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