Self Organization in Cells - How to Use Proteins to Solve a Geometry Problem
Date:Thu, May 17, 2012
Location:PIMS, University of British Columbia
Conference:Mathematical Cell Biology Summer Course
Fragments of fish pigment cells can form and center aggregates of pigment granules by dynein-motor-driven transport along a self-organized radial array of microtubules (MTs). I will present a quantitative model that describes pigment aggregation and MT-aster self-organization and the subsequent centering of both structures. The model is based on the observations that MTs are immobile and treadmill, while dynein-motor-covered granules have the ability to nucleate MTs. From assumptions based on experimental observations, I'll derive partial integro-differential equations describing the coupled granule-MT interaction. Analysis explains the mechanism of aster self-organization as a positive feedback loop between motor aggregation at the MT minus ends and MT nucleation by motors. Furthermore, the centering mechanism is explained as a global geometric bias in the cell established by spontaneously-nucleated microtubules. Numerical simulations lend additional support to the analysis. The model sheds light on role of polymer dynamics and polymer-motor interactions in cytoskeletal organization.
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