Author(s): Tolomeo JA, Holley MC
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Abstract The mechanical properties of cross-linked microtubule bundles were measured from outer pillar cells isolated from the mammalian inner ear. Measurements were made using a three-point bending test and were incorporated into a mathematical model designed to distinguish between the stiffness contributions from microtubules and their cross-linking proteins. Outer pillar cells were composed of 1000-3000 parallel bundled microtubules in a square array that was interdigitated and cross-linked with actin filaments. The average midpoint bending stiffness of intact cells was 7 x 10(-4) N/m. After removal of both the actin filaments and cross-links with detergent in the presence of DNase I, the square array was disrupted and the stiffness decreased by a factor of 4, to 1.7 x 10(-4) N/m. The bending modulus for individual microtubules was calculated to be 7 x 10(-23) Nm2, and the Young's modulus for these 15 protofilament microtubules was 2 x 10(9) Pa. The shear modulus between microtubules in intact cells was calculated to be 10(3) Pa. It was concluded that cross-linking proteins provided shear resistance between microtubules, which resulted in a fourfold increase in stiffness. The model can be used to estimate the mechanical properties of cross-linked microtubule bundles in cells from which direct measurements are not available.
This article was published in Biophys J
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research