Understanding force-generating microtubule systems through in vitro reconstitution

Cell Adhesion & Migration
Mathijs VleugelMarileen Dogterom

Abstract

Microtubules switch between growing and shrinking states, a feature known as dynamic instability. The biochemical parameters underlying dynamic instability are modulated by a wide variety of microtubule-associated proteins that enable the strict control of microtubule dynamics in cells. The forces generated by controlled growth and shrinkage of microtubules drive a large range of processes, including organelle positioning, mitotic spindle assembly, and chromosome segregation. In the past decade, our understanding of microtubule dynamics and microtubule force generation has progressed significantly. Here, we review the microtubule-intrinsic process of dynamic instability, the effect of external factors on this process, and how the resulting forces act on various biological systems. Recently, reconstitution-based approaches have strongly benefited from extensive biochemical and biophysical characterization of individual components that are involved in regulating or transmitting microtubule-driven forces. We will focus on the current state of reconstituting increasingly complex biological systems and provide new directions for future developments.

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