Electric Field Induced Structural Perturbations In Microtubules: Can We Stimulate and Detect Solitons? Greger Hammarin , Per Borjesson (Chemistry And Molecular Biology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden) P1
Microtubules are biological nanowires that stretch from the cell nucleus to the cell membrane. They are functionally active and control processes of cell division, communication, and the transport of chemical packages throughout the cell. Solitons are one-dimensional waves that propagate over long-distances. It known from molecular dynamics and vibrational spectroscopy that biological molecules have natural low-frequency vibrational modes. What is unknown is if these low-frequency vibrational modes can extend across large molecular clusters and thereby propagate information or energy over a distance. These experiments are motivated by decades of speculation that such processes may occur. The research aims to stimulate solitons in microtubules using alternating electric fields, and to detect them as a structural perturbation using Small Angle X-ray Solution Scattering. To achieve this aim we have developed a new approach to the challenge of stimulating vibrational modes in microtubules using low-strength (~1 V/mm) electric fields at GHz frequencies. We have designed and constructed a flow-cell apparatus for delivering AC fields across protein samples in solution as they flow within an X-ray transparent capillary. We have conducted experiments at several synchrotrons (Swiss Light Source, Switzerland, Diamond Light Source, UK & MAX IV, Sweden) and analysis is ongoing.