Active beating modes of two clamped filaments driven by molecular motors.
Journal of the Royal Society, Interface 19:186 (2022) 20210693
Abstract:Biological cilia pump the surrounding fluid by asymmetric beating that is driven by dynein motors between sliding microtubule doublets. The complexity of biological cilia raises the question about minimal systems that can re-create similar patterns of motion. One such system consists of a pair of microtubules that are clamped at the proximal end. They interact through dynein motors that cover one of the filaments and pull against the other one. Here, we study theoretically the static shapes and the active dynamics of such a system. Using the theory of elastica, we analyse the shapes of two filaments of different lengths with clamped ends. Starting from equal lengths, we observe a transition similar to Euler buckling leading to a planar shape. When further increasing the length ratio, the system assumes a non-planar shape with spontaneously broken chiral symmetry after a secondary bifurcation and then transitions to planar again. The predicted curves agree with experimentally observed shapes of microtubule pairs. The dynamical system can have a stable fixed point, with either bent or straight filaments, or limit cycle oscillations. The latter match many properties of ciliary motility, demonstrating that a two-filament system can serve as a minimal actively beating model.
Sustained enzymatic activity and flow in crowded protein droplets.
Nature communications 12:1 (2021) 6293
Abstract:Living cells harvest energy from their environments to drive the chemical processes that enable life. We introduce a minimal system that operates at similar protein concentrations, metabolic densities, and length scales as living cells. This approach takes advantage of the tendency of phase-separated protein droplets to strongly partition enzymes, while presenting minimal barriers to transport of small molecules across their interface. By dispersing these microreactors in a reservoir of substrate-loaded buffer, we achieve steady states at metabolic densities that match those of the hungriest microorganisms. We further demonstrate the formation of steady pH gradients, capable of driving microscopic flows. Our approach enables the investigation of the function of diverse enzymes in environments that mimic cytoplasm, and provides a flexible platform for studying the collective behavior of matter driven far from equilibrium.
Synchronization and Enhanced Catalysis of Mechanically Coupled Enzymes.
Physical review letters 127:20 (2021) 208103
Abstract:We examine the stochastic dynamics of two enzymes that are mechanically coupled to each other, e.g., through an elastic substrate or a fluid medium. The enzymes undergo conformational changes during their catalytic cycle, which itself is driven by stochastic steps along a biased chemical free energy landscape. We find conditions under which the enzymes can synchronize their catalytic steps, and discover that the coupling can lead to a significant enhancement in their overall catalytic rate. Both effects can be understood as arising from a global bifurcation in the underlying dynamical system at sufficiently strong coupling. Our findings suggest that, despite their molecular scale, enzymes can be cooperative and improve their performance in metabolic clusters.
Comment on "Relative Diffusivities of Bound and Unbound Protein Can Control Chemotactic Directionality''
ArXiv 2110.12797 (2021)
Diffusiophoretic propulsion of an isotropic active colloidal particle near a finite-sized disk embedded in a planar fluid-fluid interface
ArXiv 2109.14437 (2021)