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Experimental characterization and modeling of contractile behavior and fluid flows in an optically-controlled microtubule network

Bulletin of the American Physical Society
Qu, Z.Jiang, J.Stellwagen, J.Wang, Z.Thomson, M. California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, CA, USA
2019 Physics

Cells perform physical tasks (genome seg- regation, movement) by organizing the activity of force-generating, active molecules in time and space. Most experimental active matter systems of biological or syn- thetic molecules are capable of spontaneously organizing into structures and gener- ating global flows while lacking the spatiotemporal control found in cells, limiting their utility for studying non-equilibrium phenomena and bioinspired engineering.

Here, we use an optically-controlled active matter system, consisting of stabilized mi- crotubule filaments and kinesin motors, to demonstrate a series of simple operations by projecting various light patterns including both concave and convex polygons. The light patterns activate a reversible link between the kinesin motors which pull on microtubules.

A two-phase contracting behavior is observed. The first phase includes a fast formation of microtubule network and its uniform contraction. The second phase is dominated by the steady state flow established afterwards. Two separate mathematical models are proposed to study these behaviors.

The article was published in: Bulletin of the American Physical Society.

Full article

This work was supported (in part) by the Fetzer Franklin Fund of the John E. Fetzer Memorial Trust.