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Abstract and Applied Analysis
Volume 2008, Article ID 241736, 13 pages
Research Article

Stokes Efficiency of Molecular Motor-Cargo Systems

1Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
2Department of Applied Mathematics, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA 93943, USA

Received 2 November 2007; Accepted 30 April 2008

Academic Editor: Yong Zhou

Copyright © 2008 Hongyun Wang and Hong Zhou. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A molecular motor utilizes chemical free energy to generate a unidirectional motion through the viscous fluid. In many experimental settings and biological settings, a molecular motor is elastically linked to a cargo. The stochastic motion of a molecular motor-cargo system is governed by a set of Langevin equations, each corresponding to an individual chemical occupancy state. The change of chemical occupancy state is modeled by a continuous time discrete space Markov process. The probability density of a motor-cargo system is governed by a two-dimensional Fokker-Planck equation. The operation of a molecular motor is dominated by high viscous friction and large thermal fluctuations from surrounding fluid. The instantaneous velocity of a molecular motor is highly stochastic: the past velocity is quickly damped by the viscous friction and the new velocity is quickly excited by bombardments of surrounding fluid molecules. Thus, the theory for macroscopic motors should not be applied directly to molecular motors without close examination. In particular, a molecular motor behaves differently working against a viscous drag than working against a conservative force. The Stokes efficiency was introduced to measure how efficiently a motor uses chemical free energy to drive against viscous drag. For a motor without cargo, it was proved that the Stokes efficiency is bounded by 100% [H. Wang and G. Oster, (2002)]. Here, we present a proof for the general motor-cargo system.