Optical tweezers-based measurements of forces and dynamics at microtubule ends

Marian Baclayon, Svenja Marei Kalisch, Ed Hendel, Liedewij Laan, Julien Husson, E. Laura Munteanu, Marileen Dogterom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific

2 Citations (Scopus)


Microtubules are dynamic cytoskeletal polymers that polymerize and depolymerize while interacting with different proteins and structures within the cell. The highly regulated dynamic properties as well as the pushing and pulling forces generated by dynamic microtubule ends play important roles in processes such as in cell division. For instance, microtubule end-binding proteins are known to affect dramatically the dynamic properties of microtubules, and cortical dyneins are known to mediate pulling forces on microtubule ends. We discuss in this chapter our efforts to reconstitute these systems in vitro and mimic their interactions with structures within the cell using micro-fabricated barriers. Using an optical tweezers setup, we investigate the dynamics and forces of microtubules growing against functionalized barriers in the absence and presence of end-binding proteins and barrier-attached motor proteins. This setup allows highspeed as well as nanometer and piconewton resolution measurements on dynamic microtubules.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOptical Tweezers
Subtitle of host publicationMethods and Protocols
EditorsArne Gennerich
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • Cytoskeleton
  • Force generation
  • Goldcoated barriers
  • Micro-fabrication
  • Microtubule ends
  • Microtubules
  • Optical trapping
  • SU8 barriers


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