Effects of spatial dimensionality and steric interactions on microtubule-motor self-organization

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Active networks composed of filaments and motor proteins can self-organize into a variety of architectures. Computer simulations in two or three spatial dimensions and including or omitting steric interactions between filaments can be used to model active networks. Here we examine how these modelling choices affect the state space of network self-organization. We compare the networks generated by different models of a system of dynamic microtubules and microtubule-crosslinking motors. We find that a thin 3D model that includes steric interactions between filaments is the most versatile, capturing a variety of network states observed in recent experiments. In contrast, 2D models either with or without steric interactions which prohibit microtubule crossings can produce some, but not all, observed network states. Our results provide guidelines for the most appropriate choice of model for the study of different network types and elucidate mechanisms of active network organization.

Journal details

Volume 16
Issue number 4
Pages 046004
Publication date

Crick labs/facilities