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Persistence Length Measurements from Stochastic Single-Microtubule Trajectories

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Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, Section Molecular Biophysics, Delft University of Technology, Lorentzweg 1, 2628 CJ Delft, The Netherlands
Cite this: Nano Lett. 2007, 7, 10, 3138–3144
Publication Date (Web):September 21, 2007
Copyright © 2007 American Chemical Society

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    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.

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     Corresponding author. E-mail:  [email protected].

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