Theory of Weakly Polydisperse Cytoskeleton Filaments




Warshavsky, Vadim
Marucho, Marcelo

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Cytoskeleton filaments have the extraordinary ability to change conformations dynamically in response to alterations of the number density of actins/tubulin, the number density and type of binding agents, and the electrolyte concentration. This property is crucial for eukaryotic cells to achieve specific biological functions in different cellular compartments. Conventional approaches to biopolymers’ solution break down for cytoskeleton filaments because they entail several approximations to treat their polyelectrolyte and mechanical properties. In this article, we introduce a novel density functional theory for polydisperse, semiflexible cytoskeleton filaments. The approach accounts for the equilibrium polymerization kinetics, length and orientation filament distributions, as well as the electrostatic interaction between filaments and the electrolyte. This is essential for cytoskeleton polymerization in different cell compartments generating filaments of different lengths, sometimes long enough to become semiflexible. We characterized the thermodynamics properties of actin filaments in electrolyte aqueous solutions. We calculated the free energy, pressure, chemical potential, and second virial coefficient for each filament conformation. We also calculated the phase diagram of actin filaments’ solution and compared with the corresponding results in in vitro experiments.



cytoskeleton filaments, second virial coefficient, phase behavior, polyelectrolytes


Polymers 14 (10): 2042 (2022)


Physics and Astronomy