Microtubule dynamics is largely influenced by nucleotide hydrolysis and the resultant tubulin configuration changes. The GTP cap model has been proposed to interpret the stabilizing mechanisms of microtubule growth from the view of hydrolysis effects. Besides, the growth of a microtubule involves the closure of a curved sheet at its growing end. The curvature conversion from the longitudinal direction to the circumferential direction also helps to stabilize the successive growth, and the curved sheet is referred to as the conformational cap. However, there still lacks theoretical investigation on the mechanical-chemical coupling growth process of microtubules. In this paper, we study the growth mechanisms of microtubules by using a coarse-grained molecular method. First, the closure process involving a sheet-to-tube transition is simulated. The results verify the stabilizing effect of the sheet structure and predict that the minimum conformational cap length that can stabilize the growth is two dimers. Then, we show that the conformational cap and the GTP cap can function independently and harmoniously, signifying the pivotal role of mechanical factors. Furthermore, based on our theoretical results, we describe a Tetris-like growth style of microtubules: the stochastic tubulin assembly is regulated by energy and harmonized with the seam zipping such that the sheet keeps a practically constant length during growth. © 2011 Ji, Feng.
Ji, X. Y., & Feng, X. Q. (2011). Mechanochemical modeling of dynamic microtubule growth involving sheet-to-tube transition. PLoS ONE, 6(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029049