The Function Of Microtubules

Microtubules are hollow, fibrous shafts whose main function is to help support and give shape to the cell. They also serve a transportation function, as they are the routes upon which organelles move through the cell. They are most often found in all eukaryotic cells and, together with the microfilaments and intermediate filaments, form the cytoskeleton.

Microtubules have many more jobs than just giving support to the cell. The microtubules also play a very important role during cell division. Their primary cell division function is to connect to the chromosomes, help those chromosomes complete their first split, and then move the new chromosomes to their places in the new daughter cells. This job is carried out by microtubules that make up the centrioles, organelles that have been given the specific job of helping cells divide. After cell division has finished, those same microtubules return to their functions in other parts of the cell. Some examples of microtubules that help with cell division are polar fibers and kinetochore fibers.

Other than support, organelle movement, and cell division, microtubules also play a part in forming large structures on the outside of the cells. Microtubules can combine in very specific bundles to form cilia and flagella for cell movement.


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