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  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

Directed intermittent search model of microtubule cargo transport

BMC Neuroscience200910 (Suppl 1) :P24

  • Published:


  • Master Equation
  • Model Reduction
  • Random Search
  • Search Model
  • Correct Target


Microtubule motor driven transport has been implicated in many critical processes in neurons. Examples include mRNA transport in dendrites and mitochondria transport in axons. We present a model of microtubule cargo transport that builds upon previous models by accounting for delivery of the cargo to the correct target. Using random search theory [1], we derive equations for the probability that a motor driven cargo moving along a one-dimensional track will find its target. We also derive equations for the average time to find the target, called the mean first passage time or mfpt. We then utilize a model reduction to approximate the governing system of hyperbolic master equations to a standard Fokker-Plank equation. The accuracy of our reduction can be verified by comparison to Monte-Carlo simulations. Using this reduction, we can consider a detailed biophysical model of bidirectional motor transport, known at the tug-of-war model, within the random search model. We conclude by proposing a model for ATP dependent transitions between search-oriented behavior and directed-transport-oriented behavior.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Mathematics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112, USA


  1. Bressloff PC, Newby J: Directed intermittent search for hidden targets. New J Phys.Google Scholar


© Newby and Bressloff; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2009

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd.