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Atomistic Basis Of Microtubule Dynamic Instability Assessed Via Multiscale Modeling

Mahya Hemmat, David J. Odde

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AbstractMicrotubule “dynamic instability,” the abrupt switching from assembly to disassembly caused by the hydrolysis of GTP to GDP within the β subunit of the αβ-tubulin heterodimer, is necessary for vital cellular processes such as mitosis and migration. Despite existing high-resolution structural data, the key mechanochemical differences between the GTP and GDP states that mediate dynamic instability behavior remain unclear. Starting with a published atomic-level structure as an input, we used multiscale modeling to find that GTP hydrolysis results in both longitudinal bond weakening (~ 4 kBT) and an outward bending preference (~ 1.5 kBT) to both drive dynamic instability and give rise to the microtubule tip structures previously observed by light and electron microscopy. More generally, our study provides an example where atomic level structural information is used as the sole input to predict cellular level dynamics without parameter adjustment.