Illustrations and equations can be used to make sense of biology.

Guillaume Salbreux : Cell mechanics and the cytoskeleton

Introduction

We are interested in understanding the cell cortex, a network of actin filaments and myosin molecular motors located at the surface of the cell, which plays a key role in numerous cellular processes.

Figure 2 cell mechanics,

Using coarse-grained theories of the cytoskeleton, we ask how forces generated in the cortex play a role in cell migration, cell division and in interkinetic nuclear migration, the process by which the cell nucleus moves to the apical side of an epithelial cell prior to cell division.

We are also interested in the mechanical coupling between the membrane and the cellular actin cortex and its influence on cell mechanics. Little is understood about how the actin cytoskeleton at the cell surface mechanically constraints the lipid membrane.

Recent experiments have shown that the cell membrane can adopt surprisingly complex folded shapes, presumably due to its attachment to cortical filaments. We develop models to describe the shape and mechanical state of the cell membrane, incorporating forces exerted by the cytoskeleton, as well as knowledge on mechanisms regulating the cell membrane surface area.