Next Article in Journal
High Entropy Oxide Phases with Perovskite Structure
Next Article in Special Issue
The Self-Adaptation Ability of Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles Enables Reliable Cancer Treatments
Previous Article in Journal
Influences of Nanoparticles Characteristics on the Cellular Responses: The Example of Iron Oxide and Macrophages
Previous Article in Special Issue
Eu-Doped Citrate-Coated Carbonated Apatite Luminescent Nanoprobes for Drug Delivery
Open AccessArticle

Investigation of the Electrical Properties of Microtubule Ensembles under Cell-Like Conditions

1
Department of Physics, University of Alberta, 11335 Saskatchewan Dr NW, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2M9, Canada
2
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Alberta, 9107–116 St, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2V4, Canada
3
Department of Physical Sciences, MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 4S2, Canada
4
Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 1Z2, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nanomaterials 2020, 10(2), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/nano10020265
Received: 4 December 2019 / Revised: 28 January 2020 / Accepted: 29 January 2020 / Published: 5 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Application of Nanoscale Materials for Cancer Diagnostic and Therapy)
Microtubules are hollow cylindrical polymers composed of the highly negatively-charged (~23e), high dipole moment (1750 D) protein α, β- tubulin. While the roles of microtubules in chromosomal segregation, macromolecular transport, and cell migration are relatively well-understood, studies on the electrical properties of microtubules have only recently gained strong interest. Here, we show that while microtubules at physiological concentrations increase solution capacitance, free tubulin has no appreciable effect. Further, we observed a decrease in electrical resistance of solution, with charge transport peaking between 20–60 Hz in the presence of microtubules, consistent with recent findings that microtubules exhibit electric oscillations at such low frequencies. We were able to quantify the capacitance and resistance of the microtubules (MT) network at physiological tubulin concentrations to be 1.27 × 10-5 F and 9.74 × 104 Ω. Our results show that in addition to macromolecular transport, microtubules also act as charge storage devices through counterionic condensation across a broad frequency spectrum. We conclude with a hypothesis of an electrically tunable cytoskeleton where the dielectric properties of tubulin are polymerisation-state dependent.
Keywords: microtubules; bioelectricity; bionanowires; neuronal charge storage; impedance spectroscopy; cytoskeleton microtubules; bioelectricity; bionanowires; neuronal charge storage; impedance spectroscopy; cytoskeleton
MDPI and ACS Style

Kalra, A.P.; Patel, S.D.; Bhuiyan, A.F.; Preto, J.; Scheuer, K.G.; Mohammed, U.; Lewis, J.D.; Rezania, V.; Shankar, K.; Tuszynski, J.A. Investigation of the Electrical Properties of Microtubule Ensembles under Cell-Like Conditions. Nanomaterials 2020, 10, 265.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop