Quantitative Biology - Subcellular Processes Publications (50)

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Quantitative Biology - Subcellular Processes Publications

During asymmetric cell divisions, cortical dyneins generate forces essential to position the spindle after polarity cues, prescribing daughter cells fate. In nematode zygote, cortical dynein pulls on microtubules transiently, raising the question of its targeting and dynamics. Tracking and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy revealed that in the cytoplasm, dynein spots displayed directed motions toward the cortex, localized at microtubule plus-ends through EBP-2/EB but are not actively transported. Read More


The plant hormones brassinosteroid (BR) and gibberellin (GA) have important roles in a wide range of processes involved in plant growth and development. The BR signalling pathway acts by altering the phosphorylation state of its transcription factors BZR1/2, whereas the GA signalling pathway acts by reducing the stability of its transcription factor DELLA. Both signalling pathways include a negative feedback, with high levels of BR causing increased repression of key BR-biosynthetic genes mediated by BZR1/2, and high levels of GA causing decreased stability of DELLA, where DELLA is responsible for activating key genes involved in GA biosynthesis. Read More


We develope a two-species exclusion process with a distinct pair of entry and exit sites for each species of rigid rods. The relatively slower forward stepping of the rods in an extended bottleneck region, located in between the two entry sites, controls the extent of interference of the co-directional flow of the two species of rods. The relative positions of the sites of entry of the two species of rods with respect to the location of the bottleneck are motivated by a biological phenomenon. Read More


Via a concomitant communication (the first part of my work), I have conclusively debunked the prevailing explanations for mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and established the need for a novel rationale to account for the reaction paradigm. Towards the same, murburn concept is hereby floated as a viable explanation (in the second part of my work). It is proposed that the inner mitochondrial membrane (harboring the various metal and flavin enzyme complexes) serves as means to confine and stabilize radical reactions, which effectively couple and bring about ATP synthesis in the proton-deficient microcosm. Read More


Robustness of spatial pattern against perturbations is an indispensable property of developmental processes for organisms, which need to adapt to changing environments. Although specific mechanisms for this robustness have been extensively investigated, little is known about a general mechanism for achieving robustness in reaction-diffusion systems. Here, we propose a buffered reaction-diffusion system, in which active states of chemicals mediated by buffer molecules contribute to reactions, and demonstrate that robustness of the pattern wavelength is achieved by the dynamics of the buffer molecule. Read More


Here we report on a set of programs developed at the ZMBH Bio-Imaging Facility for tracking real-life images of cellular processes. These programs perform 1) automated tracking; 2) quantitative and comparative track analyses of different images in different groups; 3) different interactive visualization schemes; and 4) interactive realistic simulation of different cellular processes for validation and optimal problem-specific adjustment of image acquisition parameters (tradeoff between speed, resolution, and quality with feedback from the very final results). The collection of programs is primarily developed for the common bio-image analysis software ImageJ (as a single Java Plugin). Read More


We study a generic one-dimensional model for an intracellular cargo driven by N motor proteins against an external applied force. The model includes motor-cargo and motor-motor interactions. The cargo motion is described by an over-damped Langevin equation, while motor dynamics is specified by hopping rates which follow a local detailed balance condition with respect to change in energy per hopping event. Read More


Allosteric molecules serve as regulators of cellular activity across all domains of life. We present a general theory of allosteric transcriptional regulation that permits quantitative predictions for how physiological responses are tuned to environmental stimuli. To test the model's predictive power, we apply it to the specific case of the ubiquitous simple repression motif in bacteria. Read More


Efficient bacterial chromosome segregation typically requires the coordinated action of a three-components, ATP-fueled machinery called the partition complex. We present a phenomenological model accounting for the dynamic activity of this system. The model is obtained by coupling simple linear reaction-diffusion equations with a proteophoresis, or "volumetric" chemophoresis, force field. Read More


As a cheap and safe antimalarial agent, chloroquine (CQ) has been used in the battle against malaria for more than half century. However, the mechanism of CQ action and resistance in Plasmodium falciparum remains elusive. Based on further analysis of our published experimental results, we propose that the mechanism of CQ action and resistance might be closely linked with cell-cycle-associated amplified genomic-DNA fragments (CAGFs, singular form = CAGF) as CQ induces CAGF production in P. Read More


Background: The correct positioning of the mitotic spindle during the asymmetric division of the nematode C. elegans zygote relies on the combination of centering and corticalpulling forces. These forces, revealed by centrosome anaphase oscillations, are regulated through the dynamics of force generators, related to mitosis progression. Read More


Protein synthesis rates are determined, at the translational level, by properties of the transcript's sequence. The efficiency of an mRNA can be tuned by varying the ribosome binding sites controlling the recruitment of the ribosomes, or the codon usage establishing the speed of protein elongation. In this work we promote transcript length as a further key determinant of translation efficiency. Read More


Cytochrome C oxidase and FoF1-ATP synthase constitute complex IV and V, respectively, of the five membrane-bound enzymes in mitochondria comprising the respiratory chain. These enzymes are located in the inner mitochondrial membrane (IMM), which exhibits large invaginations called cristae. According to recent cryo-tomography, FoF1-ATP synthases are located predominantly at the rim of the cristae, while cytochrome C oxidases are likely distributed in planar membrane areas of the cristae. Read More


We study the coarsening of strongly microphase separated membrane domains in the presence of recycling of material. We study the dynamics of the domain size distribution under both scale-free and size-dependent recycling. Closed form solutions to the steady state distributions and its associated central moments are obtained in both cases. Read More


We present a framework for computing the gating properties of ligand-gated ion channel mutants using the Monod-Wyman-Changeux (MWC) model of allostery. We derive simple analytic formulas for key functional properties such as the leakiness, dynamic range, half-maximal effective concentration, and effective Hill coefficient, and explore the full spectrum of phenotypes that are accessible through mutations. Specifically, we consider mutations in the channel pore of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) and the ligand binding domain of a cyclic nucleotide-gated (CNG) ion channel, demonstrating how each mutation can be characterized as only affecting a subset of the biophysical parameters. Read More


Gene transcription is a critical step in gene expression. The currently accepted physical model of transcription predicts the existence of a physical limit on the maximal rate of transcription, which does not depend on the transcribed gene. This limit appears as a result of polymerase "traffic jams" forming in the bulk of the 1D DNA chain at high polymerase concentrations. Read More


Cells contain elaborate and interconnected networks of protein polymers which make up the cytoskeleton. The cytoskeleton governs the internal positioning and movement of vesicles and organelles, and controls dynamic changes in cell polarity, shape and movement. Many of these processes require tight control of the size and shape of cytoskeletal structures, which is achieved despite rapid turnover of their molecular components. Read More


Current treatment strategy for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) mainly includes inhibition of tyrosine kinase activity, which has dramatically improved the prognosis of the disease but without cure. In addition some patients may become drug resistant. Thus there is still the need for other therapies to avoid resistance and if possible to cure the disease. Read More


We present a generalized Landau-Brazovskii free energy for the solidification of chiral molecules on a spherical surface in the context of the assembly of viral shells. We encounter two types of icosahedral solidification transitions. The first type is a conventional first-order phase transition from the uniform to the icosahedral state. Read More


The concept of allostery in which macromolecules switch between two different conformations is a central theme in biological processes ranging from gene regulation to cell signaling to enzymology. Allosteric enzymes pervade metabolic processes, yet a simple and unified treatment of the effects of allostery in enzymes has been lacking. In this work, we take the first step towards this goal by modeling allosteric enzymes and their interaction with two key molecular players - allosteric regulators and competitive inhibitors. Read More


A tri-block nanoparticle (TBN) comprising of an enzymatically cleavable porous gelatin nanocore encapsulated with gefitinib (tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)) and surface functionalized with cetuximab-siRNA conjugate has been synthesized. Targeted delivery of siRNA to undruggable KRAS mutated non-small cell lung cancer cells would sensitize the cells to TKI drugs and offers an efficient therapy for treating cancer; however, efficient delivery of siRNA and releasing it in cytoplasm remains a major challenge. We have shown TBN can efficiently deliver siRNA to cytoplasm of KRAS mutant H23 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) cells for oncogene knockdown; subsequently, sensitizing it to TKI. Read More


Understanding the operation of biological molecular motors, nanoscale machines that transduce electrochemical energy into mechanical work, is enhanced by bottom-up strategies to synthesize novel motors. Read More


Viruses are incapable of autonomous energy production. Although many experimental studies make it clear that viruses are parasitic entities that hijack the host's molecular resources, a detailed estimate for the energetic cost of viral synthesis is largely lacking. To quantify the energetic cost of viruses to their hosts, we enumerated the costs associated with two very distinct but representative DNA and RNA viruses, namely T4 and influenza. Read More


HIV-1 virions assemble as immature particles containing Gag polyproteins that are processed by the viral protease into individual components, resulting in the formation of mature infectious particles. There are two competing models for the process of forming the mature HIV-1 core: the disassembly and de novo reassembly model and the non-diffusional displacive model. To study the maturation pathway, we simulate HIV-1 maturation in vitro by digesting immature particles and assembled virus-like particles with recombinant HIV-1 protease and monitor the process with biochemical assays and cryoEM structural analysis in parallel. Read More


Synthetic biology sets out to implement new functions in cells, and to develop a deeper understanding of biological design principles. In 2000, Elowitz and Leibler showed that by rational design of the reaction network, and using existing biological components, they could create a network that exhibits periodic gene expression, dubbed the repressilator (Elowitz and Leibler, Nature, 2000). More recently, Stricker et al. Read More


In this paper, we develop and analyze a minimal model for a 2D network of cross-linked actin filaments and myosin motors, representing the cortical cytoskeleton of eukaryotic cells. We implement coarse-grained representations of force production by myosin motors and stress dissipation through an effective cross-link friction and filament turnover. We use this model to characterize how the sustained production of active stress, and the steady dissipation of elastic stress, depend individually on motor activity, effective cross-link friction and filament turnover. Read More


Membrane-protein systems constitute an important avenue for a variety of targeted therapies. The ability to alter these systems remotely via physical fields is highly desirable for the advance of noninvasive therapies. Biophysical action of acoustic fields in particular holds immense potential for applications in drug delivery and neuro-modulation. Read More


Theoretical analysis, which maps single molecule time trajectories of a molecular motor onto unicyclic Markov processes, allows us to evaluate the heat dissipated from the motor and to elucidate its dependence on the mean velocity and diffusivity. Unlike passive Brownian particles in equilibrium, the velocity and diffusion constant of molecular motors are closely inter-related to each other. In particular, our study makes it clear that the increase of diffusivity with the heat production is a natural outcome of active particles, which is reminiscent of the recent experimental premise that the diffusion of an exothermic enzyme is enhanced by the heat released from its own catalytic turnover. Read More


Using a microfluidic trap, we study the behavior of individual phospholipid vesicles in contact with fatty acids. We show that spontaneous fatty acids insertion inside the bilayer is controlled by the vesicle size, osmotic pressure difference across the membrane and fatty acids concentration in the external bath. Depending on these parameters, vesicles can grow spherically or become unstable and fragment into several daughter vesicles. Read More


This article presents an algorithm for the evaluation of organelles' movements inside of an unmodified live cell. We used a time-lapse image series obtained using wide-field bright-field photon transmission microscopy as an algorithm input. The benefit of the algorithm is the application of the R\'enyi information entropy, namely a variable called a point information gain, which enables to highlight the borders of the intracellular organelles and to localize the organelles' centers of mass with the precision of one pixel. Read More


In a previous paper, we examined a class of possible conformations for helically patterned filaments in contact with a bonding surface. In particular, we investigated geometries where contact between the pattern and the surface was improved through a periodic twisting and lifting of the filament. A consequence of this lifting is that the total length of the filament projected onto the surface decreases after bonding. Read More


We report an experimental study of the influences of the fixed charge and bulk ionic concentrations on the conduction of biological ion channels, and we consider the results within the framework of the ionic Coulomb blockade model of permeation and selectivity. Voltage clamp recordings were used to investigate the Na$^+$/Ca$^{2+}$ anomalous mole fraction effect (AMFE) exhibited by the bacterial sodium channel NaChBac and its mutants. Site-directed mutagenesis was used to study the effect of either increasing or decreasing the fixed charge in their selectivity filters for comparison with the predictions of the Coulomb blockade model. Read More


The principal pacemaker of the circadian clock of the cyanobacterium S. elongatus is a protein phosphorylation cycle consisting of three proteins, KaiA, KaiB and KaiC. KaiC forms a homohexamer, with each monomer consisting of two domains, CI and CII. Read More


Recently the physical characterization of a number of biological processes has proven indispensable for a full understanding of natural phenomena. One such example is the mechanical properties of transcription, which have been shown to have significant effects in gene expression. In this letter we introduce a simple description of the basic physical elements of transcription where RNA elongation, RNA polymerase rotation and DNA supercoiling are coupled. Read More


Gene expression is a noisy process that leads to regime shift between alternative steady states among individual living cells, inducing phenotypic variability. The effects of white noise on the regime shift in bistable systems have been well characterized, however little is known about such effects of colored noise (noise with non-zero correlation time). Here, we show that noise correlation time, by considering a genetic circuit of autoactivation, can have significant effect on the regime shift in gene expression. Read More


It is well known that many biochemical processes in the cell such as gene regulation, growth signals and activation of ion channels, rely on mechanical stimuli. However, the mechanism by which mechanical signals propagate through cells is not as well understood. In this review we focus on stress propagation in a minimal model for cell elasticity, actomyosin networks, which are comprised of a sub-family of cytoskeleton proteins. Read More


Self-assembly of protein monomers into distinct membrane protein oligomers provides a general mechanism for diversity in the molecular architectures, and resulting biological functions, of membrane proteins. We develop a general physical framework describing the thermodynamic competition between different oligomeric states of membrane proteins. Using the mechanosensitive channel of large conductance as a model system, we show how the dominant oligomeric states of membrane proteins emerge from the interplay of protein concentration in the cell membrane, protein-induced lipid bilayer deformations, and direct monomer-monomer interactions. Read More


Studies on the role of fluctuations in signal propagation and on gene regulation in monoclonal bacterial population have been extensively pursued based on the machinery of two-component system. The bacterial two-component system shows noise utilisation through its inherent plasticity. The fluctuations propagation takes place using the phosphotransfer module and the feedback mechanism during gene regulation. Read More


The spindle checkpoint assembly (SAC) ensures genome fidelity by temporarily delaying anaphase onset, until all chromosomes are properly attached to the mitotic spindle. The SAC delays mitotic progression by preventing activation of the ubiquitin ligase anaphase-promoting complex (APC/C) or cyclosome; whose activation by Cdc20 is required for sister-chromatid separation marking the transition into anaphase. The mitotic checkpoint complex (MCC), which contains Cdc20 as a subunit, binds stably to the APC/C. Read More


Sensors are the first element of the pathways that control the response of cells to their environment. After chemical, the next most important cue is mechanical, and protein complexes that produce or enable a chemical signal in response to a mechanical stimulus are called mechanosensors. There is a sharp distinction between sensing an external force or pressure/tension applied to the cell, and sensing the mechanical stiffness of the environment. Read More


Reproduction and natural selection are the key elements of life. In order to reproduce, the genetic material must be doubled, separated and placed into two new daughter cells, each containing a complete set of chromosomes and organelles. In mitosis, transition from one process to the next is guided by intricate surveillance mechanisms, known as the mitotic checkpoints. Read More


We recall the perturbation expansion for Michaelis-Menten kinetics, beyond the standard quasi-steady-state approximation (sQSSA). Against this background, we are able to appropriately apply the alternative approach to the study of singularly perturbed differential equations that is based on the renormalization group (SPDERG), by clarifying similarities and differences. In the present demanding situation, we directly renormalize the bare initial condition value for the substrate. Read More


Genetic stability is a key factor in maintaining, survival and reproduction of biological cells. It relies on many processes, but one of the most important is a {\it homologous recombination}, in which the repair of breaks in double-stranded DNA molecules is taking place with a help of several specific proteins. In bacteria this task is accomplished by RecA proteins that are active as nucleoprotein filaments formed on single-stranded segments of DNA. Read More


Dynamic instability of microtubules is considered using frameworks of non-linear thermodynamics and non-equilibrium reaction-diffusion systems. Stochastic assembly/disassembly phases in the polymerization dynamics of microtubules are treated as a result of collective clusterization of microdefects (holes in structure). The model explains experimentally observed power law dependence of catastrophe frequency from the microtubule growth rate. Read More


Based on a detailed crossbridge model for individual myosin II motors, we systematically study the influence of mechanical load and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) concentration on small myosin II ensembles made from different isoforms. For skeletal and smooth muscle myosin II, which are often used in actomyosin gels that reconstitute cell contractility, fast forward movement is restricted to a small region of phase space with low mechanical load and high ATP concentration, which is also characterized by frequent ensemble detachment. At high load, these ensembles are stalled or move backwards, but forward motion can be restored by decreasing ATP concentration. Read More


Experiments have revealed that membrane proteins can form two-dimensional clusters with regular translational and orientational protein arrangements, which may allow cells to modulate protein function. However, the physical mechanisms yielding supramolecular organization and collective function of membrane proteins remain largely unknown. Here we show that bilayer-mediated elastic interactions between membrane proteins can yield regular and distinctive lattice architectures of protein clusters, and may provide a link between lattice architecture and lattice function. Read More


Membrane proteins deform the surrounding lipid bilayer, which can lead to membrane-mediated interactions between neighboring proteins. Using the mechanosensitive channel of large conductance (MscL) as a model system, we demonstrate how the observed differences in protein structure can affect membrane-mediated interactions and cooperativity among membrane proteins. We find that distinct oligomeric states of MscL lead to distinct gateway states for the clustering of MscL, and predict signatures of MscL structure and spatial organization in the cooperative gating of MscL. Read More


Reconstruction of neuroanatomy is a fundamental problem in neuroscience. Stochastic expression of colors in individual cells is a promising tool, although its use in the nervous system has been limited due to various sources of variability in expression. Moreover, the intermingled anatomy of neuronal trees is challenging for existing segmentation algorithms. Read More


The fast blood stream of animals is associated with large shear stresses. Consequently, blood cells have evolved a special morphology and a specific internal architecture allowing them to maintain their integrity over several weeks. For instance, non-mammalian red blood cells, mammalian erythroblasts and platelets have a peripheral ring of microtubules, called the marginal band, that flattens the overall cell morphology by pushing on the cell cortex. Read More


Microtubule asters - radial arrays of microtubules organized by centrosomes - play a fundamental role in the spatial coordination of animal cells. The standard model of aster growth assumes a fixed number of microtubules originating from the centrosomes. However, aster morphology in this model does not scale with cell size, and we recently found evidence for non-centrosomal microtubule nucleation. Read More