Europhys. Lett.
Volume 48, Number 1, October 1999
Page(s) 99 - 105
Section Interdisciplinary physics and related areas of science and technology
Published online 01 September 2002
DOI: 10.1209/epl/i1999-00120-y

Europhys. Lett, 48 (1), pp. 99-105 (1997)

Many-body forces between membrane inclusions:
A new pattern-formation mechanism

K. S. Kim 1, J. C. Neu 2 and G. F. Oster 3

1Department of Physics, Graduate Group in Biophysics, University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2Department of Mathematics, University of California - Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
3Departments of Molecular & Cellular Biology and ESPM, University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3112, USA

(received 11 March 1999; accepted in final form 26 July 1999)

PACS. 87.10$\rm +e$ - Biological and medical physics: General theory and mathematical aspects.


The elastic interaction of membrane inclusions provides a unique physical realization of multibody forces. We derive an expression for the multibody curvature interaction between membrane proteins, and show that this interaction cannot be approximated by a pairwise additive theory. However, the interaction can be decomposed into a repulsive pairwise part and a non-pairwise part of similar magnitude which is anisotropic and can be attractive. This non-pairwise interaction can create stable spatial patterns which arise from an interplay between thermal fluctuations and competing pairwise repulsive and non-pairwise attractive interactions. We present numerical simulations which show how aggregates can assemble into ordered patterns from a random initial distribution at room temperature .


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