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Structure–property relation and relevance of beam theories for microtubules: a coupled molecular and continuum mechanics study / Si Li, Chengyuan Wang, Perumal Nithiarasu

Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

Swansea University Authors: Chengyuan Wang, Perumal Nithiarasu

Abstract

Quasi-one-dimensional microtubules (MTs) in cells enjoy high axial rigidity but large transverse flexibility due to the inter-protofilament (PF) sliding. This study aims to explore the structure–property relation for MTs and examine the relevance of the beam theories to their unique features. A mole...

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Published in: Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology
ISSN: 1617-7959 1617-7940
Published: 2017
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa35114
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Abstract: Quasi-one-dimensional microtubules (MTs) in cells enjoy high axial rigidity but large transverse flexibility due to the inter-protofilament (PF) sliding. This study aims to explore the structure–property relation for MTs and examine the relevance of the beam theories to their unique features. A molecular structural mechanics (MSM) model was used to identify the origin of the inter-PF sliding and its role in bending and vibration of MTs. The beam models were then fitted to the MSM to reveal how they cope with the distinct mechanical responses induced by the inter-PF sliding. Clear evidence showed that the inter-PF sliding is due to the soft inter-PF bonds and leads to the length-dependent bending stiffness. The Euler beam theory is found to adequately describe MT deformation when the inter-PF sliding is largely prohibited. Nevertheless, neither shear deformation nor the nonlocal effect considered in the ‘more accurate’ beam theories can fully capture the effect of the inter-PF sliding. This reflects the distinct deformation mechanisms between an MT and its equivalent continuous body.
Keywords: Microtubules, Molecular structure mechanics model, Inter-PF sliding, Euler beam, Timoshenko beam, Nonlocal effect
College: College of Engineering