Active forces and flows for cellular polarization

17 December 2010

Stephan Grill
Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems
Dresden, Germany


Active flow of biological matter is important in many instances of animal development. Here I report on the physical mechanisms that underlie coordinated and large-scale flow of the actomyosin cellular cortex in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which we revealed by a combination of experimental and theoretical investigations.

I discuss how this out-of-equilibrium material flow, through advection, switches a set of cellular proteins to a non-homogeneous distribution, which polarizes the cell. This highlights how active mechanics and cellular biochemistry interact to establish a biological pattern.


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