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Active Microtubule Bundle Observed With Fluorescent Microscopy (Image 1)

An active microtubule bundle observed with fluorescence microscopy (bundle length 130 Ám)

A movie still showing an active microtubule bundle observed with fluorescent microscopy (bundle length 130 Ám). This freely beating bundle consists of thousands of microtubules and is anchored at the edge of a 10-Ám-high tape boundary at the edge of a chamber. Clusters of molecular motors called kinesin connect the microtubules and exert inter-filament forces that cause the filaments to bend. With many of these motors working together, periodic beating of the microtubule bundle spontaneously emerges as a self-organized process. By studying self-organizing processes in systems of relatively simple components, researchers hope to generate unique insight into the fundamental mechanisms that drive important biological processes like the beating of a sperm's flagella.

This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) (NSF grant DMR 08-20492) at Brandeis University.

To learn more about this research, see the Brandeis University news story Artificial cilia spur new thinking in nanotechnology. (Date of Image: December 2010) [See related image Here.]

Credit: Timothy Sanchez, David Welch, Daniela Nicastro and Zvonimir Dogic, AAAS

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