Mechanics of cellular packing of nanorods with finite and non-uniform diameters

X Yi and GJ Zou and HJ Gao, NANOSCALE, 10, 14090-14099 (2018).

DOI: 10.1039/c8nr04110e

To understand the mechanics of cellular/intracellular packing of one- dimensional nanomaterials, we performed theoretical analysis and molecular dynamics simulations to investigate how the morphology and mechanical behaviors of a lipid vesicle are regulated by encapsulated rigid nanorods of finite and non-uniform diameters, including a cylindrical rod, a rod with widened ends, a cone-shaped rod, and a screw-driver-shaped rod. As the rod length increases, the vesicle evolves from a sphere into different shapes, such as a lemon, a conga drum, a cherry, a bowling pin, or a tubular shape for long and thick rods. The contact between the vesicle protrusion and the rod plays an important role in regulating the vesicle tubulation, membrane tension, and axial contact force on the rod. Our analysis provides a theoretical basis to understand a wide range of experiments on morphological transitions that occur in cellular packing of actin or microtubule bundles, mitotic cell division, and intracellular packing of carbon nanotubes.

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