On the role of external force of actin filaments in the formation of tubular protrusions of closed membrane shapes with anisotropic membrane components

Eur Biophys J. 2017 Dec;46(8):705-718. doi: 10.1007/s00249-017-1212-z. Epub 2017 May 9.


Biological membranes are composed of different components and there is no a priori reason to assume that all components are isotropic. It was previously shown that the anisotropic properties of membrane components may explain the stability of membrane tubular protrusions even without the application of external force. Our theoretical study focuses on the role of anisotropic membrane components in the stability of membrane tubular structures generated or stabilized by actin filaments. We show that the growth of the actin cytoskeleton inside the vesicle can induce the partial lateral segregation of different membrane components. The entropy of mixing of membrane components hinders the total lateral segregation of the anisotropic and isotropic membrane components. Self-assembled aggregates formed by anisotropic membrane components facilitate the growth of long membrane tubular protrusions. Protrusive force generated by actin filaments favors strong segregation of membrane components by diminishing the opposing effect of mixing entropy.

Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton; Anisotropic membrane components; Biological membranes; Membrane tubular protrusions; Numerical study; Vesicles.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Anisotropy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism*
  • Cell Surface Extensions / metabolism*
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Monte Carlo Method