Mechanics of microtubule-based membrane extension

Deborah Kuchnir Fygenson, John F. Marko, Albert Libchaber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


We observe quasistatic deformation of lipid vesicles from within, due to the polymerization of confined microtubules. A pair of long, narrow membrane sleeves appears, sheathing the microtubule ends as they grow. Spontaneous buckling reveals that the force generated can be greater than 2 pN. The evolution of shape and magnitude of force are consistent with a simple theory for the membrane free energy. We consider a model of the force generating mechanism in which thermal fluctuations of the membrane are “rectified” by the binding of tubulin dimers to the microtubule end.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4497-4500
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number22
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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