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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jun 10;94(12):6001-6.

Cilia internal mechanism and metachronal coordination as the result of hydrodynamical coupling.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, 32000, Israel.


We present a simple but realistic model for the internal bend-generating mechanism of cilia, using parameters obtained from the analysis of data of the beat of a single cilium, and incorporate it into a recently developed dynamical model. Comparing the results to experimental data for two-dimensional beats, we demonstrate that the model captures the essential features of the motion, including many properties that are not built in explicitly. The beat pattern and frequency change in response to increased viscosity and the presence of neighboring cilia in a realistic fashion. Using the model, we are able to investigate multicilia configurations such as rows of cilia and two-dimensional arrays of cilia. When two adjacent model cilia start beating at different phase, they synchronize within two cycles, as observed in experiments in which two flagella beating out of phase are brought close together. Examination of various multicilia configurations shows that metachronal patterns (i. e., beats with a constant phase difference between neighboring cilia) evolve autonomously. This provides modeling evidence in support of the conjecture that metachronism may occur as a self-organized phenomenon due to hydrodynamical interactions between the cilia.

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