Three Dimensional Microtubule-Based Transport Logistics

Dr. Michael Vershinin
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Utah


Microtubules are akin to highways in many living cells. Cargo delivery often proceeds along these filaments but the actual logistics is a complex process. Of note, cargos often traverse filament intersections, where filaments may be positioned at various angles and various displacement to each other. Such complexity is inherently not reducible to a 1D or 2D model. However, to date most modeling of microtubule-based cargo transport has been in simplified  surface-bound assays which are not faithful to the intracellular constraints. I will demonstrate our novel 3D microtubule motility assay in which many microtubules can be independently held and manipulated in 3D. I will also show how we quantify forces exerted by cargos on microtubules during each crossing event. I will discuss progress to date achieved with our in vitro approach. In particular I will show that geometry of the intersection does substantially affect cargo navigation across an individual intersection.