Volume 83, Number 5, September 2008
Article Number 50009
Number of page(s) 5
Section General
Published online 02 September 2008
EPL, 83 (2008) 50009
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/83/50009

Spatial signal amplification in cell biology: A lattice-gas model for self-tuned phase ordering

T. Ferraro1, A. de Candia1, A. Gamba2, 3 and A. Coniglio1

1   Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, Università di Napoli ”Federico II” - via Cintia, 80126, Napoli, Italy, EU
2   Politecnico di Torino and CNISM - Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10121 Torino, Italy, EU
3   INFN - via Pietro Giuria 1, 10125 Torino, Italy, EU

received 28 May 2008; accepted in final form 23 July 2008; published September 2008
published online 2 September 2008

Experiments show that the movement of eukaryotic cells is regulated by a process of phase separation of two competing enzymes on the cell membrane, that effectively amplifies shallow external gradients of chemical attractant. Notably, the cell is able to self-tune the final enzyme concentrations to an equilibrium state of phase coexistence, for a wide range of the average attractant concentration. We propose a simple lattice model in which, together with a short-range attraction between enzymes, a long-range repulsion naturally arises from physical considerations, that easily explains such observed behavior.

05.70.Jk - Critical point phenomena.
05.65.+b - Self-organized systems.
87.17.Jj - Cell locomotion, chemotaxis.

© EPLA 2008