Single carbon nanotube-based reversible regulation of biological motor activity

Yuichi Inoue, Mitsunori Nagata, Hiroshi Matsutaka, Takeru Okada, Masaaki K. Sato, Akihiko Ishijima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Because of their small size and high thermal conductivity, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are excellent candidates for exploring heat transfer at the level of individual molecules in biological research. With a view toward examining the thermal regulation of single biomolecules, we here developed single CNTs as a new platform for observing the motile activity of myosin motors. On multiwall CNTs (diameter 170 nm; length 10 %mu;) coated with skeletal-muscle myosin, the ATP-driven sliding of single actin filaments was clearly observable. The normal sliding speed was 6 %mu;/s. Locally irradiating one end of the CNT with a red laser (642 nm), without directly irradiating the active myosin motors, accelerated the sliding speed to 12 %mu;/s, indicating the reversible activation of protein function on a single CNT in real time. The temperature along the CNT, which was estimated from the temperature-dependence of the sliding speed, decreased with the distance from the irradiated spot. Using these results with the finite element method, we calculated a first estimation of the thermal conductivity of multiwall CNTs in solution, as 1540 ± 260 (Wm-1 K-1), which is consistent with the value estimated from the width dependency of multiwall CNTs and the length dependency of single-wall CNTs in a vacuum or air. The temporal regulation of local temperature through individual CNTs should be broadly applicable to the selective activation of various biomolecules in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3677-3684
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Apr 28


  • carbon nanotube
  • laser-induced heating
  • molecular motor
  • myosin
  • thermal conductivity


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