Compare and contrast the reaction coordinate diagrams for chemical reactions and cytoskeletal force generators

Jonathan M. Scholey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Reaction coordinate diagrams are used to relate the free energy changes that occur during the progress of chemical processes to the rate and equilibrium constants of the process. Here I briefly review the application of these diagrams to the thermodynamics and kinetics of the generation of force and motion by cytoskeletal motors and polymer ratchets as they mediate intracellular transport, organelle dynamics, cell locomotion, and cell division. To provide a familiar biochemical context for discussing these subcellular force generators, I first review the application of reaction coordinate diagrams to the mechanisms of simple chemical and enzyme-catalyzed reactions. My description of reaction coordinate diagrams of motors and polymer ratchets is simplified relative to the rigorous biophysical treatment found in many of the references that I use and cite, but I hope that the essay provides a valuable qualitative representation of the physical chemical parameters that underlie the generation of force and motility at molecular scales. In any case, I have found that this approach represents a useful interdisciplinary framework for understanding, researching, and teaching the basic molecular mechanisms by which motors contribute to fundamental cell biological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-439
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Biology of the Cell
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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