Mechanics of microtubules

J Biomech. 2010 Jan 5;43(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Oct 8.


Microtubules are rigid cytoskeletal filaments, and their mechanics affect cell morphology and cellular processes. For instance, microtubules for the support structures for extended morphologies, such as axons and cilia. Further, microtubules act as tension rods to pull apart chromosomes during cellular division. Unlike other cytoskeletal filaments (e.g., actin) that work as large networks, microtubules work individually or in small groups, so their individual mechanical properties are quite important to their cellular function. In this review, we explore the past work on the mechanics of individual microtubules, which have been studied for over a quarter of a century. We also present some prospective on future endeavors to determine the molecular mechanisms that control microtubule rigidity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Movement
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / physiology
  • Microtubules / physiology*


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins