Thursday, April 30, 2015

Measuring Cohesion between Macromolecular Filaments One Pair at a Time: Depletion-Induced Microtubule Bundling

Feodor Hilitski, Andrew R. Ward, Luis Cajamarca, Michael F. Hagan, Gregory M. Grason, and Zvonimir Dogic

In the presence of nonadsorbing polymers, colloidal particles experience ubiquitous attractive interactions induced by depletion forces. Here, we measure the depletion interaction between a pair of microtubule filaments using a method that combines single filament imaging with optical trapping. By quantifying the dependence of filament cohesion on both polymer concentration and solution ionic strength, we demonstrate that the minimal model of depletion, based on the Asakura-Oosawa theory, fails to quantitatively describe the experimental data. By measuring the cohesion strength in two- and three- filament bundles, we verify pairwise additivity of depletion interactions for the specific experimental conditions. The described experimental technique can be used to measure pairwise interactions between various biological or synthetic filaments and complements information extracted from bulk osmotic stress experiments.

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