Polymer motors: Pushing out the front and pulling up the back

Alex Mogilner, George Oster

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mechanical work in cells is performed by specialized motor proteins that operate in a continuous mechanochemical cycle. Less complex, but still efficient, 'one-shot' motors evolved based on the assembly and disassembly of polymers. We review the mechanisms of pushing and pulling by actin and microtubule filaments and the organizational principles of actin networks. We show how these polymer force generators are used for the propulsion of intracellular pathogens, protrusion of lamellipodia and mitotic movements. We discuss several examples of cellular forces generated by the assembly and disassembly of polymer gels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R721-R733
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 16 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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