Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 495–503 | Cite as

Coarse-grained Brownian ratchet model of membrane protrusion on cellular scale

Original Paper


Membrane protrusion is a mechanochemical process of active membrane deformation driven by actin polymerization. Previously, Brownian ratchet (BR) was modeled on the basis of the underlying molecular mechanism. However, because the BR requires a priori load that cannot be determined without information of the cell shape, it cannot be effective in studies in which resultant shapes are to be solved. Other cellular-scale models describing the protrusion have also been suggested for modeling a whole cell; however, these models were not developed on the basis of coarse-grained physics representing the underlying molecular mechanism. Therefore, to express the membrane protrusion on the cellular scale, we propose a novel mathematical model, the coarse-grained BR (CBR), which is derived on the basis of nonequilibrium thermodynamics theory. The CBR can reproduce the BR within the limit of the quasistatic process of membrane protrusion and can estimate the protrusion velocity consistently with an effective elastic constant that represents the state of the energy of the membrane. Finally, to demonstrate the applicability of the CBR, we attempt to perform a cellular-scale simulation of migrating keratocyte in which the proposed CBR is used for the membrane protrusion model on the cellular scale. The results show that the experimentally observed shapes of the leading edge are well reproduced by the simulation. In addition, The trend of dependences of the protrusion velocity on the curvature of the leading edge, the temperature, and the substrate stiffness also agreed with the other experimental results. Thus, the CBR can be considered an appropriate cellular-scale model to express the membrane protrusion on the basis of its underlying molecular mechanism.


Membrane protrusion Mathematical model Cellular-scale simulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computational Cell Biomechanics TeamRIKENSaitamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Mechanical Engineering and ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Institute for Frontier Medical SciencesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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