Formation and interaction of membrane tubes

Phys Rev Lett. 2002 Jun 10;88(23):238101. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.88.238101. Epub 2002 May 28.


We show that the formation of membrane tubes (or membrane tethers), which is a crucial step in many biological processes, is highly nontrivial and involves first-order shape transitions. The force exerted by an emerging tube is a nonmonotonic function of its length. We point out that tubes attract each other, which eventually leads to their coalescence. We also show that detached tubes behave like semiflexible filaments with a rather short persistence length. We suggest that these properties play an important role in the formation and structure of tubular organelles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / chemistry*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Intracellular Membranes / chemistry*
  • Intracellular Membranes / physiology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Surface Tension