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Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Diaphanous dancers

by Manny I. Fox Morone
January 12, 2021

Yellow strands float against black background as it suspended in a liquid, as they create graceful curls and flow into each other.
Credit: Stanislav Tsitkov

Stanislav Tsitkov wants to understand how small things move and come together, so he created a system to watch the dance of these microtubules. In cells, microtubules act as the rails on which cargo is shuttled by motor proteins such as kinesins, which use their ‘feet’ to march up and down the trails set up by the microtubule network. But in this experiment, Tsitkov, a postdoc in Henry Hess’s lab at Columbia University, allowed the tubules to float freely and interact with modified kinesins that could anchor their ‘heads’ to the surface under the system. The swarm of kinesin motors bridge the gap between the surface and the tubules and essentially allow the tubules to crowd-surf: one anchored kinesin grabs a floating tubule and hands it to the next kinesin and so on, drawing the tubules into these long twisting curls.

Credit: Stanislav Tsitkov. Follow the Hess Lab on Twitter @HessLabColumbia. Read the paper: ACS Nano 2020, DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c03263

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