The dynamics of filament assembly define cytoskeletal network morphology

Giulia Foffano 1 Nicolas Levernier 2 Martin Lenz 1

Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 7, pp.13827

The actin cytoskeleton is a key component in the machinery of eukaryotic cells, and it selfassembles out of equilibrium into a wide variety of biologically crucial structures. While the molecular mechanisms involved are well characterized, the physical principles governing the spatial arrangement of actin filaments are not understood. Here we propose that the dynamics of actin network assembly from growing filaments results from a competition between diffusion, bundling, and steric hindrance, and is responsible for the range of observed morphologies. Our model and simulations thus predict an abrupt dynamical transition between homogeneous and strongly bundled networks as a function of the actin polymerization rate. This suggests that cells may effect dramatic changes to their internal architecture through minute modifications of their nonequilibrium dynamics. Our results are consistent with available experimental data.

  • 1. LPTMS – Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques
  • 2. LPTMC – Laboratoire de Physique Théorique de la Matière Condensée

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