Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So far I have only mentioned the functions of the microfilaments as part of the cell’s bones and muscles or cytoskeleton. To even up matters, I’ll talk about the microtubules today.

The microtubules consist mainly of the protein tubulin which has 2 phases, the alpha and beta tubulin. These tubulin molecules form a tube like structure that can elongate at one end and shorten at the other. This is a continuously occurring process so the microtubules and also the microfilaments are always in a state of dynamic instability. That means that nothing is permanent with the cell’s cytoskeleton.

Microtubules serve as scaffolding inside cells and act as “tracks” on which cells can move organelles, chromosomes, vesicles and other things inside. In other words, they act like bullet trains inside cells. Microtubules are also responsible for the movement of cilia and flagella. Imagine that, molecules that can act as scaffolding, train, and propeller at the same time! Yessiree, those are your microtubules.

In order to do their function however, microtubule need to associate with proteins like dynein and kinesin. These two serve as motors to power the movement of microtubules. If something goes wrong with these motors, then any of the movements mentioned above will not be possible. Sperm cells for example will be immotile if dynein is absent in their flagellum.

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