Mathematics Colloquia and Seminars

Return to Colloquia & Seminar listing

Mechanics of cell movements

Student-Run Applied & Math Seminar

Speaker: Alex Mogilner, UC Davis
Location: 1147 MSB
Start time: Wed, Mar 30 2011, 12:10PM

Animal cells crawl on surfaces using dynamic network of actin polymers enveloped by the cell membrane. Recent experiments showed that the motile cell geometry is tightly correlated with cell speed and with actin dynamics. These quantitative data combined with computational modeling suggest that motile cells crawling is based on "actin treadmill inside unstretchable membrane bag". According to this model, a force balance between membrane tension and growing and pushing actin network distributed unevenly along the cell periphery can explain the cell shape and motility. However, when adhesion of the cell to the surface weakens, the actin dynamics become less regular, and muscle-like myosin-powered contraction starts playing crucial role in stabilizing the cell shape. I will illustrate how the combination of theoretical and experimental approaches helped to unravel the cell motile behavior.