Multiplication of Motor-Driven Microtubules for Nanotechnological Applications

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



Microtubules gliding on motor-functionalized surfaces have been explored for various nanotechnological applications. However, when moving over large distances (several millimeters) and long times (tens of minutes), microtubules are lost due to surface detachment. Here, we demonstrate the multiplication of kinesin-1-driven microtubules that comprises two concurrent processes: (i) severing of microtubules by the enzyme spastin and (ii) elongation of microtubules by self-assembly of tubulin dimers at the microtubule ends. We managed to balance the individual processes such that the average length of the microtubules stayed roughly constant over time while their number increased. Moreover, we show microtubule multiplication in physical networks with topographical channel structures. Our method is expected to broaden the toolbox for microtubule-based in vitro applications by counteracting the microtubule loss from substrate surfaces. Among others, this will enable upscaling of network-based biocomputation, where it is vital to increase the number of microtubules during operation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)926-934
Number of pages9
JournalNano letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022

External IDs

PubMed 35050639
unpaywall 10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c03619
Mendeley 23bfb783-5e75-3d21-857f-4c7e9e1b0f14
ORCID /0000-0002-0750-8515/work/142235548


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards

Subject groups, research areas, subject areas according to Destatis


  • biocomputation, kinesin, microtubule severing, molecular motor-based transport, multiplication, spastin, Kinesins/metabolism, Tubulin/metabolism, Spastin/metabolism, Nanotechnology, Microtubules/metabolism