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Microtubule Self-Assembly: Social Interaction at the Nanoscale

Speaker: David J. Odde, Univ. of Minnesota
Date & Time: October 10, 2008 - 10:20am
Location: BME Room 122

Microtubule Self-Assembly: Social Interaction at the Nanoscale
Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

David J. Odde, Univ. of Minnesota
10:20 AM, BME Room 122

Microtubules are linear filaments inside of cells that self-assemble from tubulin subunits, and are responsible for mediating chromosome segregation and neuron growth among other processes. They represent an important therapeutic target, as the anticancer drug taxol binds specifically to the tubulin subunits in the microtubule. Microtubules have a polarity, with their so-called minus ends attached to a nucleating structure known as the centrosome, while their so-called plus ends extend out toward the periphery of the cell. Molecular motors then use the microtubules as railroad tracks to deliver intracellular cargoes. Therefore, if microtubule assembly is favored in one region of the cell versus another, then there will be increased motor-based transport in the favored direction. This talk will present the current thinking on the self-assembly of microtubules, and the unusual role that guanosine triphosphate (GTP) hydrolysis plays in this process.

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