Microtubule length distributions in the presence of protein-induced severing

Simon H. Tindemans, Bela M. Mulder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Microtubules are highly regulated dynamic elements of the cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells. One of the regulation mechanisms observed in living cells is the severing by the proteins katanin and spastin. We introduce a model for the dynamics of microtubules in the presence of randomly occurring severing events. Under the biologically motivated assumption that the newly created plus end undergoes a catastrophe, we investigate the steady-state length distribution. We show that the presence of severing does not affect the number of microtubules, regardless of the distribution of severing events. In the special case in which the microtubules cannot recover from the depolymerizing state (no rescue events) we derive an analytical expression for the length distribution. In the general case we transform the problem into a single ordinary differential equation that is solved numerically.

Original languageEnglish
Article number031910
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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