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Microtubules vs. Microfilaments — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 24, 2023
Microtubules are tubular structures composed of tubulin, providing cellular support. Microfilaments, made of actin, are involved in cell movement and shape.
Microtubules vs. Microfilaments

Difference Between Microtubules and Microfilaments

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Key Differences

Microtubules are cylindrical tubes found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells, playing a role in maintaining cell shape and structure. Conversely, Microfilaments are thinner, thread-like structures predominantly composed of the protein actin and are responsible for many types of cellular movements.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
Microtubules, composed of tubulin proteins, serve as tracks for the intracellular movement of substances. Microfilaments, being actin filaments, often work with another protein called myosin to enable muscle contraction and other movement-related activities.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
In terms of cellular functions, Microtubules are vital for processes like mitosis, where they form the mitotic spindle helping in chromosome separation. On the other hand, Microfilaments facilitate processes like cell division (cytokinesis) where they pinch the cell into two.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
Microtubules are also central components of structures like cilia and flagella, aiding cell movement. Microfilaments, with their dynamic assembly and disassembly, play a significant role in changing the cell's shape and in phenomena like cellular crawling.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
The stability factor also distinguishes the two. Microtubules can be more dynamic, rapidly assembling and disassembling as needed by the cell. Microfilaments, while also dynamic, provide more consistent tension and support, especially near the cell's periphery.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Composition

Tubulin
Actin
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Nov 24, 2023

Function in Cell

Provide structural support
Involved in movement and shape
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Nov 24, 2023

Associated Cellular Processes

Mitosis, intracellular transport
Muscle contraction, cell division, shape change
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Nov 24, 2023

Appearance

Tubular structures
Thinner, thread-like structures
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Nov 24, 2023

Structures They Form

Part of cilia, flagella
Often associated with myosin in muscles
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Nov 24, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Microtubules

Cellular components providing structural support.
The integrity of the cell's shape is often maintained by Microtubules.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microfilaments

Thin, thread-like cellular structures primarily made of actin.
Microfilaments play a central role in muscle cells, enabling contraction.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microtubules

Cylindrical structures in cells composed of tubulin proteins.
During cell division, Microtubules form the mitotic spindle, helping in chromosome alignment.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microfilaments

Assemblies providing tension and support in cells.
Near the cell's edge, a network of Microfilaments provides the necessary tension for shape maintenance.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microtubules

Intracellular tracks facilitating movement of substances.
Motor proteins walk along Microtubules, transporting vesicles within the cell.
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Oct 07, 2023

Microfilaments

Components crucial for cell movement and shape.
The crawling movement of certain cells is driven by the dynamic nature of Microfilaments.
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Oct 07, 2023

Microtubules

Dynamic assemblies that rapidly form or disassemble.
Upon certain signals, Microtubules can rapidly rearrange to support cellular processes.
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Oct 07, 2023

Microfilaments

Actin filaments interacting with myosin in muscles.
The interaction between Microfilaments and myosin results in the sliding mechanism of muscle contraction.
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Oct 07, 2023

Microtubules

Key components of cilia and flagella in cells.
The beating of cilia, facilitated by Microtubules, helps in moving substances over cell surfaces.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microfilaments

Essential for processes like cytokinesis in cell division.
During cell division, Microfilaments constrict and help split the cell into two daughter cells.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 07, 2023

Microtubules

Any of the cylindrical hollow tubulin-containing structures that are found in the cytoplasm, cilia, and flagella of eukaryotic cells and are involved in determining cell shape and structure and directing the movement of organelles and chromosomes. Microtubules, along with microfilaments and intermediate filaments, make up a cell's cytoskeleton.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

Microfilaments

Any of the actin-containing filaments that are found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells and are involved in generating cell movement, providing structural support, and organizing internal cell components. Microfilaments, along with intermediate filaments and microtubules, make up a cell's cytoskeleton.
Tayyaba Rehman
Oct 06, 2023

Microtubules

Plural of microtubule
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Oct 06, 2023

Microfilaments

Plural of microfilament
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Oct 06, 2023

Common Curiosities

Do Microtubules play a role in cell movement?

Yes, Microtubules form structures like cilia and flagella, which aid in cell movement.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

Are Microtubules involved in chromosome separation?

Yes, during mitosis, Microtubules form the mitotic spindle, aiding in chromosome separation.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

How do Microfilaments aid in muscle contraction?

Microfilaments, composed of actin, interact with myosin to enable muscle contraction.
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Nov 24, 2023

What are Microtubules primarily composed of?

Microtubules are primarily composed of tubulin proteins.
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Nov 24, 2023

Can Microfilaments change the shape of the cell?

Yes, through their dynamic assembly and disassembly, Microfilaments can change the cell's shape.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

How do Microfilaments aid in cell division?

Microfilaments facilitate cytokinesis, helping pinch and split the cell into two.
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Nov 24, 2023

Are Microtubules found in all cells?

Microtubules are found in eukaryotic cells, not in prokaryotic cells.
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Nov 24, 2023

What structures do Microtubules form in cells?

Microtubules form structures like the mitotic spindle, cilia, and flagella.
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Nov 24, 2023

How do Microfilaments contribute to cellular crawling?

Microfilaments, with their dynamic assembly, allow cell extensions and retractions, enabling crawling.
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Nov 24, 2023

What protein predominantly makes up Microfilaments?

Microfilaments are predominantly made of actin.
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Nov 24, 2023

Are Microtubules static structures?

No, Microtubules are dynamic and can rapidly assemble and disassemble as needed by the cell.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

Do Microfilaments have a role in cellular transport?

Microfilaments primarily influence cell shape and movement, while Microtubules play a more direct role in transport.
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Nov 24, 2023

Can cells function without Microtubules or Microfilaments?

Both are vital for various cellular processes, and their absence or malfunction can hinder cell function.
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Nov 24, 2023

Which is thicker, Microtubules or Microfilaments?

Microtubules are thicker compared to the thinner Microfilaments.
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Nov 24, 2023

What cellular processes involve Microfilaments?

Microfilaments are involved in muscle contraction, cell movement, cytokinesis, and shape maintenance.
Tayyaba Rehman
Nov 24, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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