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Microtubule Mechano-Sensation

Film edited by the Cytomorpholab team and presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American and European Societies of Cell and Molecular Biology.

Published on 9 December 2020

The stochastic switching between microtubule growth and shrinkage is a fascinating and unique process in the regulation of the cytoskeleton. To understand it, almost all attention has been focused on the microtubule ends. However, recent experiments on reconstituted microtubule in vitro have revealed that tubulin dimers can also be exchanged in protofilaments along the microtubule shaft, thus repairing the microtubule and protecting it from disassembly. In this presentation we will discuss the role of microtubule self-repair in cells and provide novel evidence that it confers unexpected mechano-sensitive properties to the microtubule network. We applied controlled deformations to living cells and found that compressive forces can stabilise microtubules. This process allows the microtubule network to sense and adapt its architecture to the force field cells are submitted to, a process that has long believed to be the apanage of the actin network.

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