Science, Tech, Math › Science Microtubules, the Structural Foundation of Your Cells Share Flipboard Email Print DR TORSTEN WITTMANN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Science Photo Library/Getty Images Science Biology Cell Biology Basics Genetics Organisms Anatomy Physiology Botany Ecology Chemistry Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Regina Bailey Biology Expert B.A., Biology, Emory University A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College Regina Bailey is a board-certified registered nurse, science writer and educator. Her work has been featured in "Kaplan AP Biology" and "The Internet for Cellular and Molecular Biologists." our editorial process Regina Bailey Updated January 10, 2020 Microtubules are fibrous, hollow rods that function primarily to help support and shape the cell. They also function as routes along which organelles can move throughout the cytoplasm. Microtubules are typically found in all eukaryotic cells and are a component of the cytoskeleton, as well as cilia and flagella. Microtubules are composed of the protein tubulin. Cell Movement Microtubules play a huge role in movement within a cell. They form the spindle fibers that manipulate and separate chromosomes during the mitosis phase of the cell cycle. Examples of microtubule fibers that assist in cell division include polar fibers and kinetochore fibers. Animal Cell Microtubules Microtubules also form cell structures called centrioles and asters. Both of these structures are found in animal cells, but not plant cells. Centrioles are composed of groupings of microtubules arranged in a 9 + 3 pattern. Asters are star-shaped microtubule structures that form around each pair of centrioles during cell division. Centrioles and asters help to organize the assembly of spindle fibers that move chromosomes during cell division. This ensures that each daughter cell gets the correct number of chromosomes after mitosis or meiosis. Centrioles also compose cilia and flagella, which allow for cell movement, as demonstrated in sperm cells and cells that line the lungs and female reproductive tract. Cell movement is accomplished by the dis-assembly and re-assembly of actin filaments and microtubules. Actin filaments, or microfilaments, are solid rod fibers which are a component of the cytoskeleton. Motor proteins, such as myosin, move along actin filaments and cause cytoskeleton fibers to slide alongside one another. This action between microtubules and proteins produces cell movement.