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Phys Rev Lett. 2008 Jan 18;100(2):028102. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Microtubule dynamics depart from the wormlike chain model.

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Center for Nonlinear Dynamics, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1610, Austin Texas 78712, USA.


Thermal shape fluctuations of grafted microtubules were studied using high resolution particle tracking of attached fluorescent beads. First mode relaxation times were extracted from the mean square displacement in the transverse coordinate. For microtubules shorter than approximately 10 microm, the relaxation times were found to follow an L2 dependence instead of L4 as expected from the standard wormlike chain model. This length dependence is shown to result from a complex length dependence of the bending stiffness which can be understood as a result of the molecular architecture of microtubules. For microtubules shorter than approximately 5 microm, high drag coefficients indicate contributions from internal friction to the fluctuation dynamics.

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