European Biophysics Journal

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 93–101 | Cite as

Transiently crosslinked F-actin bundles

  • Dan StrehleEmail author
  • Jörg Schnauß
  • Claus Heussinger
  • José Alvarado
  • Mark Bathe
  • Josef Käs
  • Brian Gentry
Biophysics Letter


F-actin bundles are prominent cytoskeletal structures in eukaryotes. They provide mechanical stability in stereocilia, microvilli, filopodia, stress fibers and the sperm acrosome. Bundles are typically stabilized by a wide range of specific crosslinking proteins, most of which exhibit off-rates on the order of 1s−1. Yet F-actin bundles exhibit structural and mechanical integrity on time scales that are orders of magnitude longer. By applying large deformations to reconstituted F-actin bundles using optical tweezers, we provide direct evidence of their differential mechanical response in vitro: bundles exhibit fully reversible, elastic response on short time scales and irreversible, elasto-plastic response on time scales that are long compared to the characteristic crosslink dissociation time. Our measurements show a broad range of characteristic relaxation times for reconstituted F-actin bundles. This can be reconciled by considering that bundle relaxation behavior is also modulated by the number of filaments, crosslinking type and occupation number as well as the consideration of defects due to filament ends.


Actin bundle mechanics Transient crosslinkers Stressfibers Cytoskeleton Semiflexible polymers Optical tweezers 



We thank Florian Huber, Jens Glaser and Klaus Kroy for helpful discussions. This work was supported by Leipzig School of Natural Sciences, “Building with Molecules and Nano-Objects” (BuildMoNa), and by DFG Graduiertenkolleg “InterNeuro” (GRK 1097) in Leipzig. M.B. is supported by MIT faculty start-up funds and the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professorship. C.H. was supported by the Humboldt Foundation in the form of a Feodor Lynen research fellowship.

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Copyright information

© European Biophysical Societies' Association 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Strehle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jörg Schnauß
    • 1
  • Claus Heussinger
    • 2
  • José Alvarado
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mark Bathe
    • 4
  • Josef Käs
    • 1
  • Brian Gentry
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Soft matter physics division, Institute for Experimental Physics IUniversity of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée et Nanostructures, UMR CNRS 5586Université de Lyon IVilleurbanneFrance
  3. 3.Biological Soft Matter GroupFOM Institute AMOLFAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Biological EngineeringCambridgeUSA

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