Discrete mechanical model of lamellipodial actin network implements molecular clutch mechanism and generates arcs and microspikes

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
D. M. Rutkowski, Dimitrios Vavylonis


Mechanical forces, actin filament turnover, and adhesion to the extracellular environment regulate lamellipodial protrusions. Computational and mathematical models at the continuum level have been used to investigate the molecular clutch mechanism, calculating the stress profile through the lamellipodium and around focal adhesions. However, the forces and deformations of individual actin filaments have not been considered while interactions between actin networks and actin bundles is not easily accounted with such methods. We develop a filament-level model of a lamellipodial actin network undergoing retrograde flow using 3D Brownian dynamics. Retrograde flow is promoted in simulations by pushing forces from the leading edge (due to actin polymerization), pulling forces (due to molecular motors), and opposed by viscous drag in cytoplasm and focal adhesions. Simulated networks have densities similar to measurements in prior electron micrographs. Connectivity between individual actin segments is maintained by permanent and dynamic crosslinkers. Remodeling of the network occurs via the addition of single actin filaments near the leading edge and via filament bond severing. We investigated how several parameters affect the stress di...Continue Reading

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