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Understanding actin organization in cell structure through lattice based Monte Carlo simulations.

journal contribution
posted on 01.06.2004, 00:00 by Kathleen M. Puskar, Leonard Apeltsin, Shlomo Ta'Asan, Russell Schwartz, Philip LeDuc

Understanding the connection between mechanics and cell structure requires the exploration of the key molecular constituents responsible for cell shape and motility. One of these molecular bridges is the cytoskeleton, which is involved with intracellular organization and mechanotransduction. In order to examine the structure in cells, we have developed a computational technique that is able to probe the self-assembly of actin filaments through a lattice based Monte Carlo method. We have modeled the polymerization of these filaments based upon the interactions of globular actin through a probabilistic model encompassing both inert and active proteins. The results show similar response to classic ordinary differential equations at low molecular concentrations, but a bi-phasic divergence at realistic concentrations for living mammalian cells. Further, by introducing localized mobility parameters, we are able to simulate molecular gradients that are observed in nonhomogeneous protein distributions in vivo. The method and results have potential applications in cell and molecular biology as well as self-assembly for organic and inorganic systems.