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Microtubule lattice dynamics

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Microtubules are omnipresent tube-like polymeric structures in living cells. They serve as mechanical scaffold for cilia, flagella or axons and as intracelluar transport tracks. Throughout their life cycle they are subject to large mechanical forces.
Recent experiments have shown that the microtubule lattice softens and self-repairs after mechanically induced damage, i.e. tubulin dimers are incorporated into the sidewall of the microtubule and not only at the extremities. This observation challenges the text book dogma that microtubules are only dynamic at their extremities.

The objective of this internship is the investigation of the microtubule lattice dynamics using kinetic Monte Carlo simulations. The question we want to answer is the following : can microtubule lattice dynamics and self-repair be understood in terms of the known microtubule growth kinetics at the extremities ? The theoretical internship is in direct connection with experiments conducted in the group of Laurent Blanchoin at the CEA/iRTSV/LPCV.

contact : Karin John (