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Front Physiol. 2012 Jul 23;3:293. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00293. eCollection 2012.

Physiological Intracellular Crowdedness is Defined by the Perimeter-to-Area Ratio of Sub-Cellular Compartments.

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Department of Bioscience and Informatics, School of Fundamental Science and Technology, Keio University Yokohama, Japan.


The intracellular environment is known to be a crowded and inhomogeneous space. Such an in vivo environment differs from a well-diluted, homogeneous environment for biochemical reactions. However, the effects of both crowdedness and the inhomogeneity of environment on the behavior of a mobile particle have not yet been investigated sufficiently. As described in this paper, we constructed artificial reaction spaces with fractal models, which are assumed to be non-reactive solid obstacles in a reaction space with crevices that function as operating ranges for mobile particles threading the space. Because of the homogeneity of the structures of artificial reaction spaces, the models succeeded in reproducing the physiological fractal dimension of solid structures with a smaller number of non-reactive obstacles than in the physiological condition. This incomplete compatibility was mitigated when we chose a suitable condition of a perimeter-to-area ratio of the operating range to our model. Our results also show that a simulation space is partitioned into convenient reaction compartments as an in vivo environment with the exact amount of solid structures estimated from TEM images. The characteristics of these compartments engender larger mean square displacement of a mobile particle than that of particles in smaller compartments. Subsequently, the particles start to show confined particle-like behavior. These results are compatible with our previously presented results, which predicted that a physiological environment would produce quick response and slow exhaustion reactions.


fractal dimension; mean square displacement; molecular crowding; percolation; surface-to-volume ratio

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