DOI: 10.1101/451880Oct 25, 2018Paper

Geometric cues stabilise long-axis polarisation of PAR protein patterns in C. elegans

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Raphaela GesseleE Frey


In the Caenorhabditis elegans zygote, PAR protein patterns, driven by mutual anatagonism, determine the anterior-posterior axis and facilitate the redistribution of proteins for the first cell division. Yet, the factors that determine the selection of the polarity axis remain unclear. We present a reaction-diffusion model in realistic cell geometry, based on biomolecular reactions and accounting for the coupling between membrane and cytosolic dynamics. We find that the kinetics of the phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycle of PARs and the diffusive protein fluxes from the cytosol towards the membrane are crucial for the robust selection of the anterior-posterior axis for polarisation. The local ratio of membrane surface to cytosolic volume is the main geometric cue that initiates pattern formation, while the choice of the long-axis for polarisation is largely determined by the length of the aPAR-pPAR interface, and mediated by processes that minimise the diffusive fluxes of PAR proteins between cytosol and membrane.

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