Microtubule-Motor Adventures

A schematic of the microtubule filament (blue) transported by multiple surface-immobilized molecular motors (green circles).

This post could also be called what I learnt from keeping an open mind, and how important it is to emphasize negative controls. Having said that I am inspired to write by Steve Koch (U. New Mex) and his commentary on Taxol-crystals and the strenghts of the PLoS system  [1].

The taxol crystals paper by Foss et al. [2] was brought to my attention by my newest PhD student Kunalika Jain. Her view was, if we use such concentrations of taxol too, we ought to see the same- which at that stage since we were facing numerous problems polymerizing microtubules and viewing them- seemed to add to the confusion. Most of our problem was “bringing them down” – which Gayathri- a fellow-cytoskeleton-ist suggested would work with methyl-cellulose (MC). However the taxol crystals persist. And even stranger, they seem to be batch dependent. Sigma’s batch shows profuse crystals, that from Cytoskeleton Inc. does not (in negative controls).

Indeed it actually horrifies me to hear of the amount of taxol the motor-motility people use, given that we are concerned with microtubule-lengths.

More thoughts on this. माइक्रोट्यूबल की बातें


1. Steve Koch’s science blog on Taxol crystals and PlOS articles

2. Foss M, Wilcox BWL, Alsop GB, Zhang D (2008) Taxol Crystals Can Masquerade as Stabilized Microtubules. PLoS ONE 3(1):e1476. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001476

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