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Didier Portran

Dynamic assembly of microtubules and molecular mechanisms behind networks involved in cell morphogenesis

Published on 5 December 2012
Thesis presented December 05, 2012 

The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton is essential for many cell processes, such as the intracellular trafficking, the cell division, and the cell morphogenesis. Depending on the cell type or on its differentiation state, the MT networks will adopt different architectures. These organizations are defined by intracellular geometric constraints and the regulation of the activity​ of many MT associated proteins (MAPs). Among these proteins, we get a particular interest in MAP65s family that crosslink MTs to organize them into bundles.
The aim of my thesis was to study in vitro the role of MAP65s in the self-organization of MT bundles in particular networks. As a first step, I developed a biomimetic system using the micro-patterning procedure which imposes a MT assembly geometry within limits close to those observed in cells. This method allows to precisely control the MT assembly from micro- patterns with define shape, size and spatial distribution. In order to validate this technic, I reconstituted MT networks which mimic cellular architecture (i.e. mitotic spindle modules). In a second time, I studied the role of major MT cross-linkers that are members of the MAP65 family in the formation of MT bundles, particularly the step of MT co-alignment after encountering of dynamic growing MTs. I found that plant MAP65-1 and its yeast orthologue, Ase1, lower the global rigidity of single MTs and MT bundles. This increase in MT flexibility is directly caused by interactions between the MAP65 MT-binding domain and the MT lattice. These data suggest that MT softening by MAP65 controls the issue of MT encounters, so that self-organized ordered MT bundles are formed in living cells. In a more general way, the modulation of MT mechanical properties by MAPs represent a new mechanism to regulate MT networks plasticity in eukaryote cells.

Microtubule, MAPs, cytoskeleton, cell morphogenesis

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