Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding about cellular microtubule rigidity could lead to development of new nano-materials

12.07.2006
Microtubules, essential structural elements in living cells, grow stiffer as they grow longer, an unexpected property that could lead to advances in nano-materials development, an international team of biophysicists has found.

The team, from The University of Texas at Austin, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany and Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, reported their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on July 5.

"We found that the microtubules grow stiffer as they grow longer, a very unusual and surprising result," said Ernst-Ludwig Florin, assistant professor with the Center of Nonlinear Dynamics at The University of Texas at Austin. "This will have a big impact on our understanding of how microtubules function in the cell and on advancing materials research.

"To my knowledge, no manmade material has this property--to become stiffer as it elongates," said Florin. "This research could lead to the design of novel materials based on this biological structure."

Microtubules, which are about 25 nanometers in diameter, play an essential role in many cellular processes, acting as girders of support for the cell and tracks along which organelles--structures in cells that perform specialized functions--can move. They are also essential components of flagella and cilia, the extensions of some cells that give them movement.

Florin and his colleagues measured the stiffness and length of cellular microtubules using a "single-particle tracking" technique. They attached yellow-green fluorescent beads to the tips of microtubules of various lengths and measured the position of the bead by analyzing frame-by-frame videos of the beads moving in solution. (The beads were 250 or 500 nanometers in diameter.)

The changes in the beads' position were used to calculate the stiffness of the filaments they were attached to, through a method recently developed by the theoretical physicists on the research team.

To the surprise of the scientists, they found that the longer the filament, the more rigid it became.

Florin and his coauthors attribute the microtubules' unique properties to their molecular architecture. The nanometer-sized filaments are hollow tubes made of tubulin proteins that bind to each other in ways that give them the ability to be both flexible and stiff. Flexibility is important for microtubules as they grow and change in cells, while rigidity is important when cells need support.

"Microtubules are optimally designed to give the maximum of mechanical performance at a minimum cost for the cell," said Francesco Pampaloni, a physical chemist at EMBL.

The new finding about the microtubules' properties could provide insights into using the filaments as models for the development of nano-materials.

Ernst-Ludwig Florin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen
24.03.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

nachricht Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices
24.03.2017 | Brigham Young University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>