Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (x, 263 pages) : color illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Janet L Paluh

Committee Members

Haixin Sui, Magnus Bergkvist, Nathaniel Cady, Scott Tenenbaum


cytoskeletal network, functionalization, gamma tubulin ring complex, kinesin like proteins, microtubules, mitotic bipolar spindle, Microtubules, Tubulins, Biomimicry, Biomimetics, Nanobiotechnology

Subject Categories

Biochemistry | Biology | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


The complexity and precision of the eukaryotic cell’s cytoskeletal network is unrivaled by any man-made systems, perfected by billions of years of evolution, mastering elegant processes of self-assembly, error correction, and self-repair. Understanding the capabilities of these networks will have important and far reaching applications in human medicine by aiding our understanding of developmental processes, cellular division, and disease mechanisms, and through biomimicry will provide insights for biosynthetic manufacturing at the nanoscale and across scales. My research utilizes cross species techniques from Human to the model organism of Fission Yeast to investigate the structure and mechanisms of the g-tubulin ring complex (gTuRC). The gTuRC is a highly conserved eukaryotic multiprotein complex serving as a microtubule organizing center (MTOC) responsible for microtubule nucleation through templating, regulation of dynamics, and establishment of microtubule polarity. Microtubules are 25 nm diameter dynamic flexible polymers of a/b-tubulin heterodimers that function as scaffolds, force generators, distributors, and intracellular highways. The microtubule cytoskeleton is essential for numerous fundamental cellular processes such as mitotic division of chromosomes and cell division, organelle distribution within the cell, cell signaling, and cell shape. This incredible diversity in functions is made possible in part due to molecular motor Kinesin-like proteins (Klps), which allow expansion into more specialized neural, immune, and ciliated cell functions. Combined, the MTOC, microtubules, and Klps represent ideal microtubule cytoskeleton protein (MCP) modular components for in vitro biomimicry towards generation of adaptable patterned networks for human designed applications. My research investigates the hypothesis that a mechanistic understanding of conserved MTOC gTuRC mechanisms will help us understand dynamic cellular nanomachines and their ability to self-assemble complex structures for applications in biomedicine and new roles in biomimetic nanotechnologies.