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Biophys J. 2006 Jun 15;90(12):4639-43. Epub 2006 Mar 24.

A biopolymer transistor: electrical amplification by microtubules.

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  • 1Department of Physics, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2J1, Canada.


Microtubules (MTs) are important cytoskeletal structures engaged in a number of specific cellular activities, including vesicular traffic, cell cyto-architecture and motility, cell division, and information processing within neuronal processes. MTs have also been implicated in higher neuronal functions, including memory and the emergence of "consciousness". How MTs handle and process electrical information, however, is heretofore unknown. Here we show new electrodynamic properties of MTs. Isolated, taxol-stabilized MTs behave as biomolecular transistors capable of amplifying electrical information. Electrical amplification by MTs can lead to the enhancement of dynamic information, and processivity in neurons can be conceptualized as an "ionic-based" transistor, which may affect, among other known functions, neuronal computational capabilities.

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