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Phys Rev Lett. 2004 Jun 18;92(24):248101. Epub 2004 Jun 16.

Scaling of microtubule force-velocity curves obtained at different tubulin concentrations.

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FOM Institute AMOLF, Kruislaan 407, 1098 SJ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


We present a single curve that describes the decay in average growth velocity for microtubules in response to a mechanical force. Curves obtained at two new and one previously studied tubulin concentrations coalesce when normalized with the growth velocity at zero load. This scaling provides direct evidence for a force-independent molecular off rate, in agreement with Brownian ratchet models. In addition, microtubule length changes were measured with a precision up to 10 nm, revealing that microtubules under load abruptly switch between different growth velocities.

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