Research News

First evidence of microtubules’ mechanosensitive behavior

Direct evidence that microtubules function as mechano-sensors and regulate the intracellular transport of molecules has been reported, leading to new possibilities in the fields of biomechanics, medicine, and biosensors.

Inside cells, microtubules not only serve as a component of the cytoskeleton (cell skeleton) but also play a role in intracellular transport. In intracellular transport, microtubules act as rails for motor proteins such as kinesin and dynein. Microtubules, the most rigid cytoskeletal component, are constantly subjected to various mechanical stresses such as compression, tension, and bending during cellular activities. It has been hypothesized that microtubules also function as mechanosensors that convert mechanical information into biochemical information.

A research team led by Associate Professor Akira Kakugo of Hokkaido University has provided direct evidence that microtubules function as mechanosensors that regulate intracellular transport. The findings were published in the journal Science Advances. The team included Dr. Syeda Rubaiya Nasrin, Seiji Nishikawa, Dr. Arif Md. Rashedul Kabir and Professor Kazuki Sada of Hokkaido University; Dr. Christian Ganser of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences; Associate Professor Takefumi Yamashita of Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), The University of Tokyo; Professor Mitsunori Ikeguchi of Yokohama City University; Professor Takayuki Uchihashi of Nagoya University; and Professor Henry Hess of Columbia University.

From the left: Syeda Rubaiya Nasrin and Akira Kakugo, Hokkaido University; Christian Ganser, National Institutes of Natural Sciences; Takefumi Yamashita, RCAST, The University of Tokyo; Mitsunori Ikeguchi, Yokohama City University; Takayuki Uchihashi, Nagoya University; and Henry Hess, Columbia University (Photos: Syeda Rubaiya Nasrin, Akira Kakugo, Christian Ganser, Takefumi Yamashita, Mitsunori Ikeguchi, Takayuki Uchihashi, Henry Hess).

See the Joint press release by Hokkaido University; the National Institutes of Natural Sciences; Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), The University of Tokyo; Yokohama City University; and Nagoya University.

Original Article:
S. R. Nasrin, C. Ganser, S. Nishikawa, A. M. R. Kabir, K. Sada, T. Yamashita, M. Ikeguchi, T. Uchihashi, H. Hess, A. Kakugo, Deformation of microtubules regulates translocation dynamics of kinesin. Sci. Adv. 7, eabf2211 (2021).
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf2211