Motor-Driven Restructuring of Cytoskeleton Composites Leads to Tunable Time-Varying Elasticity

Janet Y. Sheung, Daisy H. Achiriloaie, Christopher Currie, Karthik Peddireddy, Aaron Xie, Jessalyn Simon-Parker, Gloria Lee, Michael J. Rust, Moumita Das, Jennifer L. Ross, Rae M. Robertson-Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The composite cytoskeleton, comprising interacting networks of semiflexible actin and rigid microtubules, generates forces and restructures by using motor proteins such as myosins to enable key processes including cell motility and mitosis. Yet, how motor-driven activity alters the mechanics of cytoskeleton composites remains an open challenge. Here, we perform optical tweezers microrheology and confocal imaging of composites with varying actin-tubulin molar percentages (25-75, 50-50, and 75-25), driven by light-activated myosin II motors, to show that motor activity increases the elastic plateau modulus by over 2 orders of magnitude by active restructuring of both actin and microtubules that persists for hours after motor activation has ceased. Nonlinear microrheology measurements show that motor-driven restructuring increases the force response and stiffness and suppresses actin bending. The 50-50 composite exhibits the most dramatic mechanical response to motor activity due to the synergistic effects of added stiffness from the microtubules and sufficient motor substrate for pronounced activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1151-1158
Number of pages8
JournalACS Macro Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 21 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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