Reversal of contractility as a signature of self-organization in cytoskeletal bundles

Bundles of cytoskeletal filaments and molecular motors generate motion in living cells, and have internal structures ranging from very organized to apparently disordered. The mechanisms powering the disordered structures are debated, and existing models predominantly predict that they are contractile. We reexamine this prediction through a theoretical treatment of the interplay between three well-characterized internal dynamical processes in cytoskeletal bundles: filament assembly and disassembly, the attachment-detachment dynamics of motors and that of crosslinking proteins. The resulting self-organization is easily understood in terms of motor and crosslink localization, and allows for an extensive control of the active bundle mechanics, including reversals of the filaments' apparent velocities and the possibility of generating extension instead of contraction. This reversal mirrors some recent experimental observations, and provides a robust criterion to experimentally elucidate the underpinnings of both actomyosin activity and the dynamics of microtubule/motor assembliesin vitroas well as in diverse intracellular structures ranging from contractile bundles to the mitotic spindle.
Source: eLife - Category: Biomedical Science Tags: Physics of Living Systems Source Type: research

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