This chapter describes recent techniques that have been developed to reconstitute and characterize well-controlled, tunable networks of actin and microtubules outside of cells. It describes optical tweezers microrheology techniques to characterize the linear and nonlinear mechanics of these plug-and-play in vitro networks from the molecular-level to mesoscopic scales. It also details fluorescence microscopy and single-molecule tracking methods to determine macromolecular transport properties and stress propagation through cytoskeleton networks. Throughout the chapter the intriguing results that this body of work has revealed are highlighted—including how the macromolecular constituents of cytoskeleton networks map to their signature responses to stress or strain; and the elegant couplings between network structure, macromolecular mobility, and stress response that cytoskeleton networks exhibit.
Part of the book: Parasitology and Microbiology Research