MDC Lab Coats

Concentration profiles of actin-binding molecules in lamellipodia


  • M. Falcke


  • Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena


  • Physica D 318-319: 50-57


  • Motile cells form lamellipodia in the direction of motion, which are flat membrane protrusions containing an actin filament network. The network flows rearward relative to the leading edge of the lamellipodium due to actin polymerization at the front. Thus, actin binding molecules are subject to transport towards the rear of the cell in the bound state and diffuse freely in the unbound state. We analyze this reaction–diffusion–advection process with respect to the concentration profiles of these species and provide an analytic approximation for them. Network flow may cause a depletion zone of actin binding molecules close to the leading edge. The existence of such zone depends on the free molecule concentration in the cell body, on the ratio of the diffusion length to the distance bound molecules travel rearward with the flow before dissociating, and the ratio of the diffusion length to the width of the region with network flow and actin binding. Our calculations suggest the existence of depletion zones for the F-actin cross-linkers filamin and {alpha}-actinin in fish keratocytes (and other cell types), which is in line with the small elastic moduli of the F-actin network close to the leading edge found in measurements of the force motile cells are able to exert.