Mechanics of the Microtubule Seam Interface Probed by Molecular Simulations and in Vitro Severing Experiments

Lukasz Szatkowski, Dale R. Merz, Nan Jiang, Ifunanya Ejikeme, Liudmila Belonogov, Jennifer L. Ross, Ruxandra I. Dima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Microtubules (MTs) are structural components essential for cell morphology and organization. It has recently been shown that defects in the filament's lattice structure can be healed to create stronger filaments in a local area and ultimately cause global changes in MT organization and cell mobility. The ability to break, causing a defect, and heal appears to be a physiologically relevant and important feature of the MT structure. Defects can be created by MT severing enzymes and are target sites for complete severing or for healing by newly incorporated dimers. One particular lattice defect, the MT lattice ''seam" interface, is a location often speculated to be a weak site, a site of disassembly, or a target site for MT binding proteins. Despite seams existing in many MT structures, very little is known about the seam's role in MT function and dynamics. In this study, we probed the mechanical stability of the seam interface by applying coarse-grained indenting molecular dynamics. We found that the seam interface is as structurally robust as the typical lattice structure of MTs. Our results suggest that, unlike prior results that claim the seam is a weak site, it is just as strong as any other location on the MT, corroborating recent mechanical measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4888-4900
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number23
StatePublished - Jun 13 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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