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J Phys Condens Matter. 2011 Sep 21;23(37):374102. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/23/37/374102. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

The emergence of sarcomeric, graded-polarity and spindle-like patterns in bundles of short cytoskeletal polymers and two opposite molecular motors.

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Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


We use linear stability analysis and numerical solutions of partial differential equations to investigate pattern formation in the one-dimensional system of short dynamic polymers and one (plus-end directed) or two (one is plus-end, another minus-end directed) molecular motors. If polymer sliding and motor gliding rates are slow and/or the polymer turnover rate is fast, then the polymer-motor bundle has mixed polarity and homogeneous motor distribution. However, if motor gliding is fast, a sarcomeric pattern with periodic bands of alternating polymer polarity separated by motor aggregates evolves. On the other hand, if polymer sliding is fast, a graded-polarity bundle with motors at the center emerges. In the presence of the second, minus-end directed motor, the sarcomeric pattern is more ubiquitous, while the graded-polarity pattern is destabilized. However, if the minus-end motor is weaker than the plus-end directed one, and/or polymer nucleation is autocatalytic, and/or long polymers are present in the bundle, then a spindle-like architecture with a sorted-out polarity emerges with the plus-end motors at the center and minus-end motors at the edges. We discuss modeling implications for actin-myosin fibers and in vitro and meiotic spindles.

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