Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 19948146
Biochim. Biophys. Acta 2010 Jul;1798(7):1418-26
Membrane nanotubes are ubiquitous in eukaryotic cells due to their involvement in the communication between many different membrane compartments. They are very dynamical structures, which are generally extended along the microtubule network. One possible mechanism of tube formation involves the action of molecular motors, which can generate the necessary force to pull the tubes along the cytoskeleton tracks. However, it has not been possible so far to image in living organisms simultaneously both tube formation and the molecular motors involved in the process. The reasons for this are mainly technological. To overcome these limitations and to elucidate in detail the mechanism of tube formation, many experiments have been developed over the last years in cell-free environments. In the present review, we present the results, which have been obtained in vitro either in cell extracts or with purified and artificial components. In particular, we will focus on a biomimetic system, which involves Giant Unilamellar Vesicles, kinesin-1 motors and microtubules in the presence of ATP. We present both theoretical and experimental results based on fluorescence microscopy that elucidate the dynamics of membrane tube formation, growth and stalling.