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Question

What is the difference between microtubules and microfilaments?


Solution

Microfilaments and microtubules are key components of the cytoskeleton in eukaryotic cells. A cytoskeleton provides structure to the cell and connects to every part of the cell membrane and every organelle. Microtubules and microfilaments together allow the cell to hold its shape, and move itself and its organelles.

Comparison chart Microfilaments versus Microtubules comparison chart Microfilaments Microtubules
Structure
Double Helix Helical lattice
Size
7 nm in diameter 20-25 nm in diameter
Composition
Predominantly composed of contractile protein called actin. Composed of subunits of protein tubulin. These subunits are termed as alpha and beta.
Strength
Flexible and relatively strong. Resist buckling due to compressive forces and filament fracture by tensile forces. Stiff and resist bending forces.
Function
Micro-filaments are smaller and thinner and mostly help cells move Microtubules are shaped similarly but are larger, and help with cell functions such as mitosis and various cell transport functions.

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