Active elastic dimers: Cells moving on rigid tracks

J. H. Lopez, Moumita Das, J. M. Schwarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Experiments suggest that the migration of some cells in the three-dimensional extracellular matrix bears strong resemblance to one-dimensional cell migration. Motivated by this observation, we construct and study a minimal one-dimensional model cell made of two beads and an active spring moving along a rigid track. The active spring models the stress fibers with their myosin-driven contractility and α-actinin-driven extendability, while the friction coefficients of the two beads describe the catch and slip-bond behaviors of the integrins in focal adhesions. In the absence of active noise, net motion arises from an interplay between active contractility (and passive extendability) of the stress fibers and an asymmetry between the front and back of the cell due to catch-bond behavior of integrins at the front of the cell and slip-bond behavior of integrins at the back. We obtain reasonable cell speeds with independently estimated parameters. We also study the effects of hysteresis in the active spring, due to catch-bond behavior and the dynamics of cross linking, and the addition of active noise on the motion of the cell. Our model highlights the role of α-actinin in three-dimensional cell motility and does not require Arp2/3 actin filament nucleation for net motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number032707
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 18 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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