Biophysics and Soft Matter Seminar

Modelling and engineering burnt-bridges ratchets

Chapin Korosec, SFU Physics
Location: Online

Wednesday, 20 January 2021 11:30AM PST

*To request access to the videoconference, email


Nature has evolved many mechanisms for achieving directed motion on the subcellular level. The burnt-bridges ratchet (BBR) is one mechanism used to achieve superdiffusive molecular motion over long distances through the successive cleavage of surface-bound energy-rich substrate sites. The BBR mechanism is utilized throughout Nature: it can be found in bacteria, plants, humans, as well as non-life forms such as influenza.  Motivated to understand how fundamental design principles alter BBR kinetics, we have built both computer models as well as synthetic experimental systems to understand BBR kinetics. In this talk I will present the results of our modelling work where we explore how multivalency, leg length, hub topology, landscape dimension, and landscape elasticity affect BBR kinetics. I will also present the preliminary results of our experimental work where we have created a micron-sized BBR that has achieved superdiffusive motion on a two-dimensional landscape. Our work provides insight into the mechanistic origin for the observed velocities and persistence found in both synthetic and biological (eg. Influenza and ParA/ParB) systems.