Why is the microtubule lattice helical?

Viktória Hunyadi, Denis Chrétien, Henrik Flyvbjerg, I. Jánosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Microtubules polymerize from identical tubulin heterodimers, which form a helical lattice pattern that is the microtubule. This pattern always has left-handed chirality, but it is not known why. But as tubulin, similar to other proteins, evolved for a purpose, the question of the title of this artcile appears to be meaningful. In a computer simulation that explores the 'counterfactual biology' of microtubules without helicity, we demonstrate that these have the same mechanical properties as Nature's microtubules with helicity. Thus only a dynamical reason for helicity is left as potential explanation. We find that helicity solves 'the problem of the blind mason', i.e. how to correctly build a structure, guided only by the shape of the bricks. This answer in turn raises some new questions for researchers to address.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-128
Number of pages12
JournalBiology of the Cell
Volume99
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007

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Microtubules
Tubulin
Computer Simulation
Research Personnel
Proteins

Keywords

  • Computer simulation
  • Macromolecular assembly
  • Microtubule structure
  • Tubulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Why is the microtubule lattice helical? / Hunyadi, Viktória; Chrétien, Denis; Flyvbjerg, Henrik; Jánosi, I.

In: Biology of the Cell, Vol. 99, No. 2, 02.2007, p. 117-128.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hunyadi, V, Chrétien, D, Flyvbjerg, H & Jánosi, I 2007, 'Why is the microtubule lattice helical?', Biology of the Cell, vol. 99, no. 2, pp. 117-128. https://doi.org/10.1042/BC20060059
Hunyadi, Viktória ; Chrétien, Denis ; Flyvbjerg, Henrik ; Jánosi, I. / Why is the microtubule lattice helical?. In: Biology of the Cell. 2007 ; Vol. 99, No. 2. pp. 117-128.
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