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Dispersion relations of cytoskeleton dynamics

Authors Wang R, Lei L, Sridharan S, Wang Y, Levine A, Popescu G

Received 14 July 2015

Accepted for publication 2 October 2015

Published 21 January 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 1—7


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Denis Wirtz

Ru Wang,1,2 Lei Lei,3 Shamira Sridharan,1,3 Yingxiao Wang,3 Alex J Levine,4,5 Gabriel Popescu,1,3,6

1Quantitative Light Imaging Laboratory, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 2Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, 3Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 4Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, 5Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 6Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA

Abstract: While it is well known that the cytoskeleton plays a fundamental role in maintaining cell shape, performing cell division, and intracellular transport, its spatiotemporal dynamics are insufficiently understood. The dispersion relation, which is fundamental for understanding the connection between spatial and temporal scales of a dynamic system, was employed here for the first time to study the activity of actin and microtubules. Using green fluorescence protein for time-lapse imaging of the cytoskeleton, we showed that the dispersion relation can distinguish between diffusive and active transport of actin and microtubule filaments. Our analysis revealed that along the filaments, the transport was deterministic, as one might expect as the result of the active polymerization process, while across the filaments diffusion was dominant. Furthermore, using drugs to block the polymerization–depolymerization of both actin and microtubules, we measured that the transport immediately became diffusive, as expected. However, unexpectedly, our results indicated that within a few minutes from blocking its polymerization, actin recovered an active transport component. This deterministic component vanished upon treatment with nocodazole, indicating that fragments of actin were actively transported along microtubules. Because it provides information over broad temporal and spatial scales, this approach promises to provide a new window into the active processes associated with live cells.

Keywords: quantitative phase imaging, QPI, spatial light interference microscopy, SLIM, microtubule dynamics, actin dynamics

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