Ring contraction with and without motors

Alexander Zumdieck
Max-Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems


The cytoskeleton is a complex network of protein filaments. Driven by active processes such as filament polymerization and depolymerization and the action of molecular motors, it represents an active system which by self-organization can form dynamic patterns and exhibit active mechanical properties. A prominent structure is the contractile ring which cleaves cells during cell division.

Starting from a microscopic picture, we develop a coarse grained description for the dynamics of rings and bundles of filaments and motors in the presence of filament polymerization and depolymerization. We show that filament treadmilling in the presence of passive cross-linkers can, similarly to motor proteins, generate tensile stresses that may result in bundle contraction.


K. Kruse, F. Jülicher, "Self-organization and mechanical properties of active filament bundles", Phys Rev E 67:051913 2003. PubMed PDF

K. Kruse, A Zumdieck, F. Jülicher, "Continuum theory of contractile Fibres", Europhys Letters 64:137-43 2003. PDF