Modelling Collective Cytoskeletal Transport and Intracellular Traffic

Conference paper
Part of the Mathematics for Industry book series (MFI, volume 1)


Biological cells require active fluxes of matter to maintain their internal organization and perform multiple tasks to live. In particular they rely on cytoskeletal transport driven by motor proteins, ATP-fueled molecular engines, for delivering vesicles and biochemically active cargoes inside the cytoplasm. Experimental progress allows nowadays quantitative studies describing intracellular transport phenomena down to the nanometric scale of single molecules. Theoretical approaches face the challenge of modelling the multiscale, out-of-equilibrium and non-linear properties of cytoskeletal transport: from the mechanochemical complexity of a single molecular motor up to the collective transport on cellular scales. We will present some of our recent progress in building a generic modelling scheme for cytoskeletal transport based on lattice gas models called “exclusion processes”. Interesting new properties arise from the emergence of density inhomogeneities of particles along the network of one dimensional lattices. Moreover, understanding these processes on networks can provide important hints for other fundamental and applied problems such as vehicular, pedestrian and data traffic, or ultimately for technological and biomedical applications.


Molecular motors Transport Traffic phenomena  Networks Cytoskeleton Biological physics Statistical mechanics Stochastic process Nonlinear phenomena 



The authors thank the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the National Agency for Research (ANR), the Program of Laboratory of Excellence (LabEx) NUMEV and the Scientific Council of the University of Montpellier 2 for the financial support obtained during these years. We acknowledge the interesting discussions we had on these topics in these years with A. Abrieu, C. Appert, P. Arndt, B. Bassetti, P. Benetatos, M. Bornens, C. Braun-Breton, S. Camalet, G. Cappello, L. Ciandrini, M. Cosentino-Lagomarsino, N. Crampe, O. Dauloudet, S. Diez, J. Dorignac, A. Dunn, B. Embley, M. Evans, T. Franosch F. Geniet, J. Howard, K. Kroy, J.F. Joanny, F. Jülicher, K. Kruse, C. Leduc, M. Lefranc, V. Lorman, P. Malgaretti, K. Mallick, P. Montcourrier, B. Mulder, I. Pagonabarraga, A. Parmeggiani, P. Pierobon, J. Prost, O. Radulescu, A. Raguin, C.M. Romano, E. Sackmann, J. Santos, K. Sasaki, C.F. Schmidt, G.M. Schütz, K. Sekimoto, J. Spudich, F. Turci, C. Vanderzande and M. Wakayama. N.K. and A.P. would like to thank B. Embley for his contribution in the study of TASEP on small networks. In particular, A.P. specially thanks E. Frey for the opportunity to work on exclusion processes for motor protein transport and for the many important and insightful discussions they had on the topic, together with T. Franosch, some years ago.


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© Springer Japan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.L2C, UMR 5221 CNRSUniversité Montpellier 2Montpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.DIMNP, UMR 5235 CNRSUniversité Montpellier 2 et Montpellier 1Montpellier Cedex 5France

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