Mathematical Biology Seminar: Len Pismen (Israel Institute of Technology)

  • Date: 08/08/2011
  • Time: 14:00
Len Pismen (Department of Chemical Engineering and Minerva Center for Nonlinear Physics of Complex Systems, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology)

University of British Columbia


Malleable Cytoskeleton: Mechanics Guided by Chemistry


Cells and tissues rearrange under the action of chemical signals.  Numerous examples are found in eggshell development, wing disc remodeling, dorsal closure, wound healing, etc. In many cases, this can be attributed to changing local mechanical properties of cytoskeleton due to motor attachment/detachment and rearrangement of the actin network triggered by signaling. I consider in more detail the action of myosin motors on nonlinear viscoelastic properties of cytoskeleton. It turns out that motors activity may either stiffen the network due to stronger prestress or soften it due to motor agitation, in accordance with experimental data. Prestress anisotropy, which may be induced by redistribution of motors triggered by either external force or a chemical signal, causes anisotropy of elastic moduli. Based on this assumption, we developed a cellular mechano-diffusive model cell that describes reshaping of the Drosophila wing disc. Similar models may be applicable to other processes where mechanics is influenced by chemical signals through the action of myosin motors.


Professor James J. Feng

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