Microtubules are highly regulated dynamic elements of the cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells. One of the regulation mechanisms observed in living cells is the severing by the proteins katanin and spastin. We introduce a model for the dynamics of microtubules in the presence of randomly occurring severing events. Under the biologically motivated assumption that the newly created plus end undergoes a catastrophe, we investigate the steady-state length distribution. We show that the presence of severing does not affect the number of microtubules, regardless of the distribution of severing events. In the special case in which the microtubules cannot recover from the depolymerizing state (no rescue events) we derive an analytical expression for the length distribution. In the general case we transform the problem into a single ordinary differential equation that is solved numerically.

N.B. Becker (Nils)
Phys. Rev. E
Theory of Biomolecular Matter

Tindemans, S., & Mulder, B. (2010). Microtubule length distributions in the presence of protein-induced severing. Phys. Rev. E, 81(Article number: 31910), 1–8. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.81.031910