A Polarized Microtubule Array for Kinesin-Powered Nanoscale Assembly and Force Generation

Timothy B. Brown, William O. Hancock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Kinesins are biological motors that transport cargo unidirectionally along microtubule tracks. These motors are attractive candidates for carrying out biomolecular separations, directed assembly of nanoparticles, or for powering nano- or microscale devices. However, a prerequisite for harnessing kinesins is properly aligning the microtubule tracks that they walk along. We describe a method for constructing an array of aligned microtubules on a two-dimensional surface. The process involves immobilizing short microtubule seeds, polymerizing long microtubules uniquely from one end, and then attaching the elongated filaments to the surface. To quantitate the extent of microtubule alignment, we analyzed microtubule orientations from four different arrays and found a standard deviation of 12.8°, which is comparable to the alignment of oriented microtubule arrays observed in migrating fibroblasts. By producing a field of aligned microtubules, this array provides a launching point for employing kinesins for directed assembly or nanoscale force generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1131-1135
Number of pages5
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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