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All wired up: an exploration of the electrical properties of microtubules and tubulin

Faculty Advisor




electric fields, electrical conductivity, electrical properties, ions, oscillation

Abstract (summary)

Microtubules are hollow, cylindrical polymers of the protein α, β tubulin, that interact mechanochemically with a variety of macromolecules. Due to their mechanically robust nature, microtubules have gained attention as tracks for precisely directed transport of nanomaterials within lab-on-a-chip devices. Primarily due to the unusually negative tail-like C-termini of tubulin, recent work demonstrates that these biopolymers are also involved in a broad spectrum of intracellular electrical signaling. Microtubules and their electrostatic properties are discussed in this Review, followed by an evaluation of how these biopolymers respond mechanically to electrical stimuli, through microtubule migration, electrorotation and C-termini conformation changes. Literature focusing on how microtubules act as nanowires capable of intracellular ionic transport, charge storage, and ionic signal amplification is reviewed, illustrating how these biopolymers attenuate ionic movement in response to electrical stimuli. The Review ends with a discussion on the important questions, challenges, and future opportunities for intracellular microtubule-based electrical signaling.

Publication Information

Aarat P Kalra, Boden B Eakins, Sahil D Patel, Gloria Ciniero, Vahid Rezania, Karthik Shankar, Jack A Tuszynski, All wired up: an exploration of the electrical properties of microtubules and tubulin, ACS nano 14 (12), 16301-16320 (2020)


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