Finding the cell center by a balance of dynein and myosin pulling and microtubule pushing: a computational study

Mol Biol Cell. 2010 Dec;21(24):4418-27. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E10-07-0627. Epub 2010 Oct 27.


The centrosome position in many types of interphase cells is actively maintained in the cell center. Our previous work indicated that the centrosome is kept at the center by pulling force generated by dynein and actin flow produced by myosin contraction and that an unidentified factor that depends on microtubule dynamics destabilizes position of the centrosome. Here, we use modeling to simulate the centrosome positioning based on the idea that the balance of three forces-dyneins pulling along microtubule length, myosin-powered centripetal drag, and microtubules pushing on organelles-is responsible for the centrosome displacement. By comparing numerical predictions with centrosome behavior in wild-type and perturbed interphase cells, we rule out several plausible hypotheses about the nature of the microtubule-based force. We conclude that strong dynein- and weaker myosin-generated forces pull the microtubules inward competing with microtubule plus-ends pushing the microtubule aster outward and that the balance of these forces positions the centrosome at the cell center. The model also predicts that kinesin action could be another outward-pushing force. Simulations demonstrate that the force-balance centering mechanism is robust yet versatile. We use the experimental observations to reverse engineer the characteristic forces and centrosome mobility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Actins / physiology
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Size
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Centrosome / metabolism*
  • Centrosome / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dyneins / metabolism*
  • Dyneins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Interphase
  • Kinesin / metabolism
  • Kinesin / physiology
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement
  • Myosins / metabolism*
  • Myosins / physiology
  • Nocodazole / adverse effects


  • Actins
  • Myosins
  • Dyneins
  • Kinesin
  • Nocodazole