Persistence length measurements from stochastic single-microtubule trajectories

Nano Lett. 2007 Oct;7(10):3138-44. doi: 10.1021/nl071696y. Epub 2007 Sep 21.


We present a simple method to determine the persistence length of short submicrometer microtubule ends from their stochastic trajectories on kinesin-coated surfaces. The tangent angle of a microtubule trajectory is similar to a random walk, which is solely determined by the stiffness of the leading tip and the velocity of the microtubule. We demonstrate that even a single-microtubule trajectory suffices to obtain a reliable value of the persistence length. We do this by calculating the variance in the tangent trajectory angle of an individual microtubule. By averaging over many individual microtubule trajectories, we find that the persistence length of microtubule tips is 0.24 +/- 0.03 mm.

MeSH terms

  • Computer Simulation
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Elasticity
  • Microtubules / chemistry*
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Motor Proteins / chemistry*
  • Motion
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Molecular Motor Proteins