Motor Usage Imprints Microtubule Stability In The Shaft
Tubulin dimers assemble into dynamic microtubules which are used by molecular motors as tracks for intracellular transport. Organization and dynamics of the microtubule network is commonly thought to be regulated at the polymer ends, where tubulin-dimers can be added or removed. Here we show that molecular motors running on microtubules cause exchange of dimers along the shaft. These sites of dimer exchange act as rescue sites where depolymerising microtubules stop shrinking and start re-growing. Consequently, the average length of microtubules increases depending on how frequently they are used as motor tracks. An increase of motor activity densifies the cellular microtubule network and enhances cell polarity. Running motors leave marks in the shaft serving as traces of microtubule usage to organize the polarity landscape of the cell.