A drift-diffusion model for molecular motor transport in anisotropic filament bundles

Dietmar Oelz, Alex Mogilner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study we consider the density of motor proteins in filament bundles with polarity graded in space. We start with a microscopic model that includes information on motor binding site positions along specific filaments and on their polarities. We assume that filament length is small compared to the characteristic length scale of the bundle polarity pattern. This leads to a separation of scales between molecular motor movement within the bundle and along single fibers which we exploit to derive a drift-diffusion equation as a first order perturbation equation. The resulting drift-diffusion model reveals that drift dominates in unidirectional bundles while diffusion dominates in isotropic bundles. In general, however, those two modes of transport are balanced according to the polarity and thickness of the filament bundle. The model makes testable predictions on the dependence of the molecular motor density on filament density and polarity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4553-4567
Number of pages15
JournalDiscrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems- Series A
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2016


  • Anisotropic two-phase model
  • Axon transport
  • Drift-diffusion approximation
  • Intracellular particle transport
  • Perturbation analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analysis
  • Discrete Mathematics and Combinatorics
  • Applied Mathematics


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