The mechanics of microtubule networks in cell division

J Cell Biol. 2017 Jun 5;216(6):1525-1531. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201612064. Epub 2017 May 10.


The primary goal of a dividing somatic cell is to accurately and equally segregate its genome into two new daughter cells. In eukaryotes, this process is performed by a self-organized structure called the mitotic spindle. It has long been appreciated that mechanical forces must be applied to chromosomes. At the same time, the network of microtubules in the spindle must be able to apply and sustain large forces to maintain spindle integrity. Here we consider recent efforts to measure forces generated within microtubule networks by ensembles of key proteins. New findings, such as length-dependent force generation, protein clustering by asymmetric friction, and entropic expansion forces will help advance models of force generation needed for spindle function and maintaining integrity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division*
  • Humans
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular*
  • Microtubule Proteins / metabolism
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Microtubules / physiology*
  • Spindle Apparatus / metabolism
  • Spindle Apparatus / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Microtubule Proteins