Tue, 04/02/2020 - 10:15
Campus Saarbr├╝cken, E2 6, E04

Dr. Laura Aradilla Zapata
Host: Prof. Ralf Seemann
Institute of X-Ray Physics, University of G├Âttingen

Dissecting the cytoskeleton - Microtubule dynamic and mechanical properties and the interplay with vimentin intermediate filaments

Microtubules are highly dynamic polymers that are needed for intracellular transport and
chromosome segregation during cell division. They grow and shrink by addition and removal
of tubulin dimers at their extremities, while the microtubule shaft adopts a highly ordered,
crystal-like lattice structure that was for a long time not considered to be dynamic.
Using controlled in vitro systems combined with numerical simulations and observations in
living cells, we showed that tubulin dimers can spontaneously leave and be incorporated into
the lattice, leading to remarkable phenomena such as the capacity of microtubules to selfrepair
when damaged. Our observations suggest that the concept of microtubule dynamics,
previously established for microtubule ends, may need to be extended to the entire shaft.

In cells, microtubules are often linked to other filaments, and there is increasing evidence that
the manifold functions of the cytoskeleton crucially depend on the fine tuned crosstalk
between its components. During my postdoctoral work, we therefore investigated the
interplay between microtubules and a second cytoskeletal component - vimentin intermediate
filaments - on a single filament level and in in vitro dynamic networks. We revealed an
attractive interaction between individual microtubules and vimentin filaments that impacts
microtubule dynamics, suggesting that the presence of vimentin can tune microtubule

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