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AFM studies of the structure and physical properties of Microtubules

Friday, September 16, 2016 — Poster Session IV

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
FAES Terrace


  • M Raftari
  • C Garcia
  • HS Liaol
  • AJ Jin
  • D Sackett


Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a promising and advanced tool for the investigation of the nanoscale structure and mechanical properties of biological samples under physiological conditions. During an AFM experiment, the physical properties of a biological structure are investigated by applying a force on a sample and monitoring sample deformations caused by that force. Recently AFM has been applied to investigations of cytoskeleton structure and microtubules. Microtubules (MTs) are hollow cylindrical polymers of the protein tubulin and are important anti-cancer targets. Microtubules can exhibit dynamic configurations that are subtly or significantly different from each other, both in vivo and in vitro, with or without interacting cofactors. Here, we analyze the topography, configuration and mechanical properties of microtubules polymerized with the drugs Taxol (Tax) and Peloruside (Pel) by Quantitative Nanomechanical Mapping (QNM) and other AFM techniques. The high-resolution AFM images from Tax and Pel microtubules are achieved by using Multimode AFM and they demonstrated different configurations of MT in each sample. Height, length and stiffness of the microtubules for Tax and Pel were measured and compared via distribution histograms. We also studied the effects of different amount of force on the stiffness of MT for each sample and realized that MT stiffness behaviors are dependent on the applied force.

Category: Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics