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Acetylation keeps microtubules strong
Cells need microtubules for intracellular transport and to avoid being crushed. On investigating microtubule breakage in live fibroblasts, Xu et al. found that if they were not acetylated, long-lived microtubules underwent frequent rupture after buckling. Acetylation makes microtubules more mechanically stable, facilitates sliding between filaments, and makes the lattice more plastic.
Science, this issue p. 328