Dissecting how molecular motors move using fluorescence microscopy, optical trapping and DNA origami

Anthony Roberts (primary)
Biological Sciences
Graeme King (secondary)
Structural and Molecular Biology


The molecular motors kinesin and dynein hydrolyse ATP to walk along microtubules, often working in teams of motors that transport cargo in a regulated fashion. In this project, we will use fluorescence microscopy and optical trapping to dissect how two biomedically important motors, kinesin Kif3 and dynein-2, move. We will also use the nanotechnology technique of DNA origami to build defined arrays of Kif3 and dynein-2, revealing how the motors move in teams. You will gain skills in protein purification, fluorescence microscopy, optical trapping, and the synthetic biology technique of DNA origami.


1) Toropova K, Mladenov M, Roberts AJ. (2017) Intraflagellar transport dynein is autoinhibited by trapping of its mechanical and track-binding elements. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 24(5):461-468.
2) Toropova K, Zalyte R, Mukhopadhyay AG, Mladenov M, Carter AP, Roberts AJ. (2019) Structure of the dynein-2 complex and its assembly with intraflagellar transport trains. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 26(9):823-829.
3) King GA, Burla F, Peterman EJG, Wuite GJL. (2019) Supercoiling DNA optically. PNAS 116(52):26534-9.

Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology
Area of Biology
Cell BiologyChemical Biology
Techniques & Approaches
BiochemistryBiophysicsImage ProcessingMathematics / Statistics