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FEBS Lett. 2001 Sep 21;505(3):374-8.

AFM force measurements on microtubule-associated proteins: the projection domain exerts a long-range repulsive force.

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Department of Physiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) are thought to control spacing between microtubules. We propose that the projection domain is largely unstructured and exerts a long-range repulsive force that is predominantly entropic in origin, providing a physical mechanism for maintaining spacing. To test this hypothesis, we developed an experimental system where MAPs are electrostatically end-attached to a flat surface, such that the projection domains extend away from the surface. Atomic force microscopy force measurements on this system show that projection domains exert a long-range (>100 nm) repulsive force. This force depends on the ionic strength of the solution in a way that is consistent with a polyelectrolyte polymer brush.

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