Model for self-polarization and motility of keratocyte fragments

F. Ziebert, S. Swaminathan, I. S. Aranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Computational modelling of cell motility on substrates is a formidable challenge; regulatory pathways are intertwined and forces that influence cell motion are not fully quantified. Additional challenges arise from the need to describe a moving deformable cell boundary. Here, we present a simple mathematical model coupling cell shape dynamics, treated by the phase-field approach, to a vector field describing the mean orientation (polarization) of the actin filament network. The model successfully reproduces the primary phenomenology of cell motility: discontinuous onset of motion, diversity of cell shapes and shape oscillations. The results are in qualitative agreement with recent experiments on motility of keratocyte cells and cell fragments. The asymmetry of the shapes is captured to a large extent in this simple model, which may prove useful for the interpretation of experiments.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1084-1092
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number70
StatePublished - Oct 19 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank J. Oliver, P. Sens, E. Raphael, J. Prost, J.-F. Joanny, F. Julicher and K. Kruse for stimulating discussions. We also would like to thank one of the referees to point out the connection to nematic droplets. F.Z. thanks the DFG for partial funding via IRTG 1642 Soft Matter Science. S.S. acknowledges support from KAUST, the University of Oxford and the DDR&E and AFOSR under Award No. FA9550-10-1-0167. I.S.A. thanks the ESPCI for hospitality and the CNRS for support during his stay. The work of I.S.A. was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Science and Engineering, under Contract DE-AC02-06CH11357.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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