Microtubule Mechano-sensations

This movie was made for the annual meeting of the ASCB and EMBO #cellbio2020


It shows how  young students and experienced scientists work together to address fundamental questions in cell biology. It illustrates the process of research: the initial question, the experiments, the multiple errors and failures, and the never-ending quest for the truth behind the magic.



The stochastic switching between microtubule growth and shrinkage is a fascinating and unique process in the regulation of the cytoskeleton. To understand it, almost all attention has been focused on the microtubule ends. However, recent experiments on reconstituted microtubule in vitro have revealed that tubulin dimers can also be exchanged in protofilaments along the microtubule shaft, thus repairing the microtubule and protecting it from disassembly. In this presentation we will discuss the role of microtubule self-repair in cells and provide novel evidence that it confers unexpected mechano-sensitive properties to the microtubule network. We applied controled deformations to living cells and found that compressive forces can stabilise microtubules. This process allows the microtubule network to sense and adapt its architecture to the force field cells are submitted to, a process that has long believed to be the apanage of the actin network.