Actin filament construction set

by destroyer2012, published

Actin filament construction set by destroyer2012 Jan 30, 2013
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4745Views 755Downloads Found in Biology


This is a protein model that can be assembled (polymerized) in an analogy to what happens inside living cells.

Actin is a protein involved in maintaining a cell's shape, as part of what's called the cytoskeleton. Actin exists as monomers, but certain conditions (like the actions other proteins, or the presence of certain salts) cause the monomers to stick together and create these long, helical filaments.

Read more about actin here http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/101/motm.do?momID=19


Print with support. I used KISSlicer, printing at 0.16 layer height at 0.45 extrusion width, scaling down the support flow rate to 75%. The model is supposed to be elevated from the platform, this helps the first layers form properly. If you don't use a heated platform you can print the non-elevated version.

Print many monomers and then put them together to make a filament! You'll need at least three before the filament structure becomes stable (Just like the real thing!) and then it's easier to add more to the plus end than the minus end (also realistic).

EDIT (9/20/2013) There seems to be some confusion as to the orientation you should print the monomer in. I have tried many other orientations and this one is the best in terms of strength, surface quality, and support effectiveness. Do not rotate it or you will get a worse model.

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Hi destroyer2012,

A great model. I'll give this one a shot. Which PDB coordinate file did you use? What's the default scale of the model, i.e. a printed cm is equal to what size of the real protein?

good luck printing it! Might take a few tries to get the support right but remember, just print it in the orientation that I provide to maximize success! I've found that making the model start a few mm above the print surface (fully encased in support) makes for the best print quality.

I can't remember which exact model I used. It was a long time ago. 3J8I is a good (newer) structure, though.

The scale of the stl models is, I believe, 1 angstrom per mm. However, I scale my models down to half, so the scale of the ones you see printed are 2 angstroms per mm.

I printed a few off and they turned out great. I would actually like to use it to teach about proteins.

Great! This is the intended use. Could you put up an "I made one" please?

Very nice! We printed a couple, but we did notice that the little pegs tended to break off easily, and it takes a while to figure out how to assembled the monomers into a filament. Perhaps a slightly larger and asymmetric peg might be useful.

Did you print it in the orientation I provided or did you turn them sideways? My pegs are super strong because they are printed parallel to the layer planes.. I don't think I've ever broken one.

The reason why I didn't go for an asymmetric peg is because i think then you are more likely to break it. At least this way if you get the rotation wrong you can just take them apart and try again. My next iteration of these will probably involve magnets though

This is REALLY cool! I'd like to print some of these and add them together, but I'm just curious to see how you are adding them together. Glue? Melting them together? Thanks!


They are held together by friction. I added a little peg and hole to the protein structure so the pieces snap together and they can be taken apart as well.