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Title: Microtubules soften due to cross-sectional flattening

We use optical trapping to continuously bend an isolated microtubule while simultaneously measuring the applied force and the resulting filament strain, thus allowing us to determine its elastic properties over a wide range of applied strains. We find that, while in the low-strain regime, microtubules may be quantitatively described in terms of the classical Euler-Bernoulli elastic filament, above a critical strain they deviate from this simple elastic model, showing a softening response with increasingdeformations. A three-dimensional thin-shell model, in which the increased mechanical compliance is caused by flattening and eventual buckling of the filament cross-section, captures this softening effect in the high strain regime and yields quantitative values of the effective mechanical properties of microtubules. Our results demonstrate that properties of microtubules are highly dependent on the magnitude of the applied strain and offer a new interpretation for the large variety in microtubule mechanical data measured by different methods.
Authors:
ORCiD logo [1] ; ORCiD logo [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [3] ; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
  2. Department of Physics, Brandeis University, Waltham, United States
  3. Department of Physics, Brandeis University, Waltham, United States, Department of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, United States
  4. Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States, Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States, Kavli Institute for Nano-Bio Science and Technology, Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
SC0010432TDD
Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
eLife
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Related Information: CHORUS Timestamp: 2018-07-11 07:00:44; Journal ID: ISSN 2050-084X
Publisher:
eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd.
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
OSTI Identifier:
1439780
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1439781