Volume 83, Number 1, July 2008
Article Number 18003
Number of page(s) 6
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 19 June 2008
EPL, 83 (2008) 18003
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/83/18003

Cytoskeletal waves in the absence of molecular motors

K. Doubrovinski and K. Kruse

Theoretische Physik, Universität des Saarlandes - Postfach 151150, 66041 Saarbrücken, Germany, EU

received 20 February 2008; accepted in final form 19 May 2008; published July 2008
published online 19 June 2008

Waves are a ubiquitous phenomenon in the cytoskeleton of cells crawling or spreading on a substrate. In theoretical analysis, cytoskeletal waves have been attributed to the action of molecular motors that actively cross-link cytoskeletal filaments. Motivated by recent observations of cytoskeletal waves in human neutrophils, we develop a description of treadmilling filaments in the presence of nucleating proteins that are active when bound to the membrane adjacent to the substrate. If these proteins bind cooperatively to the membrane, we find traveling waves even in the absence of molecular motors. In a confined domain the system can organize into a pair of counter-rotating spirals that emit planar waves.

87.16.Ka - Filaments, microtubules, their networks, and supramolecular assemblies.
87.16.-b - Subcellular structure and processes.
87.15.rp - Polymerization.

© EPLA 2008