Lattice defects induce microtubule self-renewal
Laura Schaedel1, Sarah Triclin1, Denis Chrétien2, Ariane Abrieu 3, Charlotte Aumeier1,
Jérémie Gaillard1, Laurent Blanchoin 1,4*, Manuel Théry 1,4* and Karin John 5*
Microtubules are dynamic polymers, which grow and shrink by addition and removal of tubulin dimers at their extremities.
Within the microtubule shaft, dimers adopt a densely packed and highly ordered crystal-like lattice structure, which is generally
not considered to be dynamic. Here, we report that thermal forces are sufficient to remodel the microtubule shaft, despite
its apparent stability. Our combined experimental data and numerical simulations on lattice dynamics and structure suggest
that dimers can spontaneously leave and be incorporated into the lattice at structural defects. We propose a model mechanism,
where the lattice dynamics is initiated via a passive breathing mechanism at dislocations, which are frequent in rapidly growing
microtubules. These results show that we may need to extend the concept of dissipative dynamics, previously established for
microtubule extremities, to the entire shaft, instead of considering it as a passive material.