Simple model of cytoskeletal fluctuations. Academic Article uri icon


  • The spontaneous motion of microbeads bound to the cytoskeleton of living cells is not an ordinary random walk. Unlike Brownian motion, the mean-square displacement undergoes a transition from subdiffusive to superdiffusive behavior with time. This transition is associated with characteristic changes of the turning angle distribution. Recent experimental data demonstrated that force fluctuations measured in an elastic hydrogel matrix beneath the cell correlate with the bead motion [C. Raupach, Phys. Rev. E 76, 011918 (2007)]. These data indicate that the bead trajectory is driven by motor forces originating from the actomyosin network and that cytoskeletal remodeling processes with short- and long-time dynamics are mainly responsible for the non-Brownian behavior. We show that the essential statistical properties of the spontaneous bead motion can be reproduced by a particle diffusing in a potential well with a slowly drifting minimum position. Based on this simple model, which can be solved analytically, we develop a biologically plausible numerical model of a tensed and continuously remodeling actomyosin network that accounts quantitatively for the measured data.

publication date

  • August 2007