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Islands of Conformational Stability for Filopodia / Rob, Daniels
PLoS ONE, Volume: 8, Issue: 3, Start page: e59010
Swansea University Author: Rob, Daniels
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Filopodia are long, thin protrusions formed when bundles of fibers grow outwardly from a cell surface while remaining closed in a membrane tube. We study the subtle issue of the mechanical stability of such filopodia and how this depends on the deformation of the membrane that arises when the fiber...
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Filopodia are long, thin protrusions formed when bundles of fibers grow outwardly from a cell surface while remaining closed in a membrane tube. We study the subtle issue of the mechanical stability of such filopodia and how this depends on the deformation of the membrane that arises when the fiber bundle adopts a helical configuration. We calculate the ground state conformation of such filopodia, taking into account the steric interaction between the membrane and the enclosed semiflexible fiber bundle. For typical filopodia we find that a minimum number of fibers is required for filopodium stability. Our calculation elucidates how experimentally observed filopodia can obviate the classical Euler buckling condition and remain stable up to several tens of microns. We briefly discuss how experimental observation of the results obtained in this work for the helical-like deformations of enclosing membrane tubes in filopodia could possibly be observed in the acrosomal reactions of the sea cucumber Thyone, and the horseshoe crab Limulus. Any realistic future theories for filopodium stability are likely to rely on an accurate treatment of such steric effects, as analysed in this work.Impact Factor: 3.730
Filopodia are fundamental to cellular life, and their crucial biological function depends on their being able to adopt extended shapes, or conformations. This work is important in that it provides the first analytical treatment of the stability of such filopdoia, with direct significance and relevance therefore for further applications in biology, physiology, and medicine. We also make explicit theoretical predicitions for the stability of filopdoia which should be of vital interest to, and testable by, awaiting experimental co-workers in this field.
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