Stochastic Dynamics of Microtubules: A Model for Caps and Catastrophes

Phys. Rev. Lett. 73, 2372 – Published 24 October 1994
Henrik Flyvbjerg, Timothy E. Holy, and Stanislas Leibler


We introduce and solve a phenomenological model for the so-called catastrophes, the abrupt transitions from the growing to the shrinking state of microtubules. The model may explain existing experimental results and resolve some long-standing apparent contradictions. In particular, the model reproduces observed catastrophe rates and waiting times for catastrophes upon sudden dilution. It may also explain why recent experiments fail to measure the GTP content in growing microtubules and provides a mechanism for so-called coupled hydrolysis.


  • Received 20 April 1994
  • Published in the issue dated 24 October 1994

© 1994 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

Henrik Flyvbjerg*, Timothy E. Holy, and Stanislas Leibler

  • Departments of Physics and Molecular Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, 08544-708

  • *On leave from CONNECT, The Niels Bohr Institute. Current address: HLRZ, Forschungszentrum Jülich, D-52425, Germany.

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