Biomolecular motors at the intersection of nanotechnology and polymer science

Ashutosh Agarwal, Henry Hess

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


The dynamic cytoskeletal components, biomolecular motors and their associated filaments, can be integrated in vitro with synthetic components to enable nanoscale transport systems. These "molecular shuttles" have generated significant scientific interest over the past decade, resulting in over 200 publications. This review focuses on the contributions involving the use of linear biomolecular motors, kinesin and myosin, and their associated filaments, microtubule and actin, in device applications. Exploiting the naturally occurring motion between the motors and their associated filaments requires an interdisciplinary understanding of the underlying challenges. Three basic topics that most of the experimental contributions have sought to address are: the guiding of shuttle movement, the loading and unloading of cargo onto the shuttles, and the control of motor activity. The physical properties of motors and filaments determine the engineering solutions to the design challenges. The applications, which center on the basic capability of nanoscale motion, and the roadblocks to their widespread implementation will be discussed in detail.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)252-277
Number of pages26
JournalProgress in Polymer Science (Oxford)
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin
  • Biopolymer
  • Cyotskeletal filament
  • Hybrid device
  • Kinesin
  • Microtubule
  • Molecular motor
  • Molecular shuttle
  • Motor protein
  • Myosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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