At the heart of human cells, tiny protein tubes radiate out in all directions. Anchored near the nucleus, they help cells hold their shape, organize internal components, and in dividing cells, tug apart the duplicated chromosomes. Called microtubules, the filaments constantly grow and shrink, fall apart and put themselves back together.
In the University of California, Berkeley, lab of Eva Nogales, microtubules have shaped a more enduring thread of discovery.
"They have this amazing behavior called dynamic instability—that is, a nonequilibrium state where they can be growing, and then suddenly they start depolymerizing," she says. "It's …Find out More »