Magnetic Quantum Dots Steer and Detach Microtubules From Kinesin-Coated Surfaces.

Mahajan KD, Cui Y, Dorcéna CJ, Bouxsien NF, Bachand GD, Chalmers JJ, Winter JO
Biotechnol J 13 01/01/2018


The microtubule (MT)-kinesin system has been extensively studied because of its role in cellular processes, as well as its potential use for controllably transporting objects at the nanoscale. Thus, there is substantial interest in methods to evaluate MT properties, including bending radius and the binding energy of kinesin motor proteins to MT tracks. Current methods to identify these properties include optical tweezers, microfluidic devices, and magnetic fields. Here, the use of magnetic quantum dots (i.e., MagDots) is evaluated as a method to study MT-kinesin interactions via applied magnetic forces. Magnetic fields are generated using a magnetic needle whose field gradient is quantified by finite element modeling (FEM). Magnetic force is applied to MagDot-labeled MTs and demonstrated sufficient to steer and detach MTs from kinesin-coated surfaces. Taking advantage of the dual-functionality of MagDots, the magnetic force experienced by a single MagDot and the number of MagDots on MTs are determined. The total force exerted on MTs by MagDots is estimated to be ≈0.94-2.47 pN. This approach could potentially be used to interrogate MT properties and MT-kinesin interactions, enhancing our biological understanding of this system and enabling further development of MT shuttles for nanotransport.

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