The Faculty


Myosin molecular motors, single-molecule enzymology, actin cytoskeletal dynamics


B.S., Chemistry, University of Chicago, 1992

Ph.D., Chemistry, California Institute of Technology, 1999

Postdoc, Stanford University

Research Summary

Cells use an extensive toolkit of molecular motors to traffic materials, to anchor internal components in fixed positions, and to control their shape. Our major goals are to (1) understand how cells use molecular motors to organize their contents and change shape, and (2) to use this knowledge to control cellular architecture and cell motility. We focus on myosin motors moving along the actin cytoskeleton, and use advanced microscopy methods to visualize and manipulate single molecules in both purified systems and whole cells. We seek to address the following questions: How do motor proteins navigate the cytoskeleton, where an enormous number of tracks point in every direction? Can we uncover the cellular roadmap for motor traffic? How do motors force remodeling of their cytoskeletal tracks? How does an organized cytoskeleton arise from sets of simple molecular interactions? Together, this information will help us to identify molecular targets in efforts to prevent aberrant cell motility, such as cancer cell metastasis.

Selected Publications

Skau, C.T.; Courson, D.S.; Bestul, A.J.; Winkelman, J.D.; Rock, R.S.; Sirotkin, V.; Kovar, D.R. Actin filament bundling by fimbrin is important for endocytosis, cytokinesis and polarization in fission yeast. J. Biol. Chem. 286: 26964-77 (2011) (PMC3143655)

Ricca, B.L. and Rock, R.S. (2010) "The stepping pattern of myosin X is adapted for processive motility on bundled actin." Biophys. J. 99:1818-26.  PubMed

Courson, D.S., Rock, R.S. (2010) "Actin crosslink assembly and disassembly mechanics for alpha-actinin and fascin." J. Biol. Chem 285: 26350-7.  PubMed

Nagy, S., Rock, R.S. (2010) "A structured post-IQ domain governs selectivity of myosin X for fascin-actin bundles." J. Biol. Chem. 285: 26608-17.  Pubmed

Norstrom, M.F, Smithback, P.A., Rock, R.S. (2010) "Unconventional processive mechanics of non-muscle myosin IIB." J. Biol. Chem. 285: 26326-34.  Pubmed

Huang, J, Nagy, S.S., Koide, A, Rock, R.S.*, Koide, S.* (2009) "A peptide tag system for facile purification and single-molecule immobilization." Biochemistry 48: 11834-6.  Pubmed

Courson, D.S., Rock, R.S. (2009) "Fast benchtop fabrication of laminar flow chambers for advanced microscopy techniques." PLoS ONE 4: e6479.  Pubmed

Ren, Y., Effler, J.C., Norstrom, M., Luo, T., Firtel, R.A., Iglesias, P.A., Rock, R.S., Robinson D.N. (2009) "Mechanosensing through cooperative interactions between myosin-II and the actin crosslinker cortexillin-I." Curr. Biol. 19: 1421-8.  Pubmed

Rizk, S, Luchniak, A., Uysal, S., Brawley, C.M., Rock R.S., Kossiakoff A. (2009) "An engineered Substance P variant for receptor-mediated delivery of synthetic antibodies into tumor cells." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 11011-15.  Pubmed

Brawley, C, Rock, R.S. (2009) "An ex vivo motility system reveals the cellular roadmap of myosin motors." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106: 9685-90.  Pubmed

Nagy, S., Ricca, B.L., Norstrom, M., Courson, D.S., Brawley, C.M., Smithback, P., Rock, R.S. (2008) "A myosin motor that selects bundled actin for motility." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 9616-20.  PubMed

Rizvi, S.A., Courson, D.S., Keller, V.A., Rock, R.S., Kozmin, S.A. (2008) "The dual mode of action of bistramide A entails severing of filamentous actin and covalent protein modification." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105: 4088-92.  PubMed

Rock, R. S., Ramamurthy, B., Dunn, A. R., Beccafico, S., Rami, B. R., Morris, C., Spink, B. J., Franzini-Armstrong, C., Spudich, J. A. and Sweeney, H. L. (2005). "A Flexible Domain Is Essential for the Large Step Size and Processivity of Myosin VI." Mol Cell 17: 603-9.   PubMed

Rock, R. S., Rice, S. E., Wells, A. L., Purcell, T. J., Spudich, J. A. and Sweeney, H. L. (2001). "Myosin VI is a processive motor with a large step size." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 98: 13655-9.   PubMed

Rief, M., Rock, R. S., Mehta, A. D., Mooseker, M. S., Cheney, R. E. and Spudich, J. A. (2000). "Myosin-V stepping kinetics: a molecular model for processivity." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97: 9482-6.   PubMed

Mehta, A. D., Rock, R. S., Rief, M., Spudich, J. A., Mooseker, M. S. and Cheney, R. E. (1999). "Myosin-V is a processive actin-based motor." Nature 400: 590-3.   PubMed