Actin-based propulsion of spatially extended objects


  • M. Enculescu
  • M. Falcke


  • New Journal of Physics


  • New J Phys 13: 053040


  • We propose a mathematical model of the actin-based propulsion of spatially extended obstacles. It starts from the properties of individual actin filaments and includes transient attachment to the obstacle, polymerization as well as cross-linking. Two particular geometries are discussed, which apply to the motion of protein-coated beads in a cell-like medium and the leading edge of a cell protrusion, respectively. The model gives rise to both steady and saltatory movement of beads and can explain the experimentally observed transitions of the dynamic regime with changing bead radius and protein surface density. Several spatiotemporal patterns are obtained with a soft obstacle under tension, including the experimentally observed spontaneous emergence of lateral traveling waves in crawling cells. Thus, we suggest a unifying mechanism for systems that are currently described by differential concepts.