Listeria's right-handed helical rocket-tail trajectories: Mechanistic implications for force generation in actin-based motility

William L. Zeile, Fangliang Zhang, Richard B. Dickinson, Daniel L. Purich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Listeria monocytogenes forms right-handed helical rocket tail trajectories during actin-based motility in cell-free extracts, and this stereochemical feature is consistent with actoclampin's affinity-modulated, clamped-filament elongation model [Dickinson and Purich, 2002: Biophys J 82:605-617]. In that mechanism, right-handed torque is generated by an end-tracking molecular motor, each comprised of a filament barbed end and clamping protein that processively traces the right-handed helix of its filament partner. By contrast, torque is not a predicted property of those models (e.g., elastic propulsion, elastic Brownian ratchet, tethered ratchet, and insertional polymerization models) requiring filament barbed ends to depart/detach from the motile object's surface during/after each monomer-addition step. Helical trajectories also explain why Listeria undergoes longitudinal-axis rotation on a length-scale matching the helical periodicity of Listeria's rocket tails.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalCell Motility and the Cytoskeleton
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • Actoclampin
  • Ena/VASP proteins
  • End-tracking motor
  • Molecular motor
  • Polymerization motor
  • Tethered-ratchet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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