Microtubule Structure and Interactions

Microtubules are cylindrical polymers found in every eukaryotic cell. They have a unique helical structure that has implications at both the cellular level, in terms of the functions they perform, and at the multi-cellular level, such as determining the left-right symmetry in plants. We are interested in the interactions that give rise to the microtubule structure, how the microtubule interacts with other associated proteins, and the role of the acidic C-terminus in all these functions. Specific projects include:

  • Microtubule Structure
    We have performed the first molecular dynamics simulation of the microtubule wall and are gaining significant insight into the interactions between the protofilaments.
  • Microtubule Mechanics
    Using the MD simulations listed above, we have developed a coarse-grained model of the microtubule that matches the observed dynamics and had the correct mechanical properties.
  • C-termini of Tubulin
    Working with Dan Sackett (NICHD/NIH), we are characterizing the dynamics and interactions of the highly charged termini of tubulin.
  • Interactions of MAPs
    We have characterized the interactions of the R1-R4 repeats of tau with the microtubule.