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J Theor Biol. 2009 Feb 21;256(4):518-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.09.044. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Simulating the formation of keratin filament networks by a piecewise-deterministic Markov process.

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Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital Ulm, D-89070 Ulm, Germany.


Keratin intermediate filament networks are part of the cytoskeleton in epithelial cells. They were found to regulate viscoelastic properties and motility of cancer cells. Due to unique biochemical properties of keratin polymers, the knowledge of the mechanisms controlling keratin network formation is incomplete. A combination of deterministic and stochastic modeling techniques can be a valuable source of information since they can describe known mechanisms of network evolution while reflecting the uncertainty with respect to a variety of molecular events. We applied the concept of piecewise-deterministic Markov processes to the modeling of keratin network formation with high spatiotemporal resolution. The deterministic component describes the diffusion-driven evolution of a pool of soluble keratin filament precursors fueling various network formation processes. Instants of network formation events are determined by a stochastic point process on the time axis. A probability distribution controlled by model parameters exercises control over the frequency of different mechanisms of network formation to be triggered. Locations of the network formation events are assigned dependent on the spatial distribution of the soluble pool of filament precursors. Based on this modeling approach, simulation studies revealed that the architecture of keratin networks mostly depends on the balance between filament elongation and branching processes. The spatial distribution of network mesh size, which strongly influences the mechanical characteristics of filament networks, is modulated by lateral annealing processes. This mechanism which is a specific feature of intermediate filament networks appears to be a major and fast regulator of cell mechanics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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