Building the Microtubule Cytoskeleton Piece By Piece [Molecular Biophysics]

May 8th, 2015 by Alfaro-Aco, R., Petry, S.

The microtubule (MT) cytoskeleton gives cells their shape, organizes the cellular interior and segregates chromosomes. These functions rely on the precise arrangement of MTs, which is achieved by the coordinated action of MT associated proteins (MAPs). We highlight the first and most important examples of how different MAP activities are combined in vitro to create an ensemble function that exceeds the simple addition of their individual activities, and how the Xenopus leavis egg extract system has been utilized as a powerful intermediate between cellular and purified systems to uncover the design principles of self-organized MT networks in the cell.