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PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Jan 27;7(1):e1001068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1001068.

Protrusive push versus enveloping embrace: computational model of phagocytosis predicts key regulatory role of cytoskeletal membrane anchors.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.


Encounters between human neutrophils and zymosan elicit an initially protrusive cell response that is distinct from the thin lamella embracing antibody-coated targets. Recent experiments have led us to hypothesize that this behavior has its mechanistic roots in the modulation of interactions between membrane and cytoskeleton. To test and refine this hypothesis, we confront our experimental results with predictions of a computer model of leukocyte mechanical behavior, and establish the minimum set of mechanistic variations of this computational framework that reproduces the differences between zymosan and antibody phagocytosis. We confirm that the structural linkages between the cytoskeleton and the membrane patch adherent to a target form the "switchboard" that controls the target specificity of a neutrophil's mechanical response. These linkages are presumably actin-binding protein complexes associating with the cytoplasmic domains of cell-surface receptors that are engaged in adhesion to zymosan and Fc-domains.

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