Scientific reports

Buckling of Microtubules on a 2D Elastic Medium.

PMID 26596905


We have demonstrated compression stress induced mechanical deformation of microtubules (MTs) on a two-dimensional elastic medium and investigated the role of compression strain, strain rate, and a MT-associated protein in the deformation of MTs. We show that MTs, supported on a two-dimensional substrate by a MT-associated protein kinesin, undergo buckling when they are subjected to compression stress. Compression strain strongly affects the extent of buckling, although compression rate has no substantial effect on the buckling of MTs. Most importantly, the density of kinesin is found to play the key role in determining the buckling mode of MTs. We have made a comparison between our experimental results and the 'elastic foundation model' that theoretically predicts the buckling behavior of MTs and its connection to MT-associated proteins. Taking into consideration the role of kinesin in altering the mechanical property of MTs, we are able to explain the buckling behavior of MTs by the elastic foundation model. This work will help understand the buckling mechanism of MTs and its connection to MT-associated proteins or surrounding medium, and consequently will aid in obtaining a meticulous scenario of the compression stress induced deformation of MTs in cells.