A Versatile Framework for Simulating the Dynamic Mechanical Structure of Cytoskeletal Networks

SL Freedman and S Banerjee and GM Hocky and AR Dinner, BIOPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 113, 448-460 (2017).

DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.06.003

Computer simulations can aid in understanding how collective materials properties emerge from interactions between simple constituents. Here, we introduce a coarse-grained model that enables simulation of networks of actin filaments, myosin motors, and cross-linking proteins at biologically relevant time and length scales. We demonstrate that the model qualitatively and quantitatively captures a suite of trends observed experimentally, including the statistics of filament fluctuations, and mechanical responses to shear, motor motilities, and network rearrangements. We use the simulation to predict the viscoelastic scaling behavior of cross-linked actin networks, characterize the trajectories of actin in a myosin motility assay, and develop order parameters to measure contractility of a simulated actin network. The model can thus serve as a platform for interpretation and design of cytoskeletal materials experiments, as well as for further development of simulations incorporating active elements.

Return to Publications page