Cell Protrusion and Retraction Driven by Fluctuations in Actin Polymerization: A two-dimensional Model

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Animal cells that spread onto a surface often rely on actin‐rich lamellipodial extensions to execute protrusion. Many cell types recently adhered on a two‐dimensional substrate exhibit protrusion and retraction of their lamellipodia, even though the cell is not translating. Travelling waves of protrusion have also been observed, similar to those observed in crawling cells. These regular patterns of protrusion and retraction allow quantitative analysis for comparison to mathematical models. The periodic fluctuations in leading edge position of XTC cells have been linked to excitable actin dynamics using a one‐dimensional model of actin dynamics, as a function of arc‐length along the cell. In this work we extend this earlier model of actin dynamics into two dimensions (along the arc‐length and radial directions of the cell) and include a model membrane that protrudes and retracts in response to the changing number of free barbed ends of actin filaments near the membrane. We show that if the polymerization rate at the barbed ends changes in response to changes in their local concentration at the leading edge and/or the opposing force from the cell membrane, the model can reproduce the patterns of membrane protrusion and retraction seen in experiment. We investigate both Brownian ratchet and switch‐like force‐velocity relationships between the membrane load forces and actin polymerization rate. The switch‐like polymerization dynamics recover the observed patterns of protrusion and retraction as well as the fluctuations in F‐actin concentration profiles. The model generates predictions for the behavior of cells after local membrane tension perturbations.






ESSN: 1949-3592