Robustness of the microtubule network self-organization in epithelia

Elife. 2021 Feb 1:10:e59529. doi: 10.7554/eLife.59529.


Robustness of biological systems is crucial for their survival, however, for many systems its origin is an open question. Here, we analyze one subcellular level system, the microtubule cytoskeleton. Microtubules self-organize into a network, along which cellular components are delivered to their biologically relevant locations. While the dynamics of individual microtubules is sensitive to the organism's environment and genetics, a similar sensitivity of the overall network would result in pathologies. Our large-scale stochastic simulations show that the self-organization of microtubule networks is robust in a wide parameter range in individual cells. We confirm this robustness in vivo on the tissue-scale using genetic manipulations of Drosophila epithelial cells. Finally, our minimal mathematical model shows that the origin of robustness is the separation of time-scales in microtubule dynamics rates. Altogether, we demonstrate that the tissue-scale self-organization of a microtubule network depends only on cell geometry and the distribution of the microtubule minus-ends.

Keywords: Drosophila; cell biology; cytoskeleton; microtubule; self-organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cytoskeleton*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / growth & development
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Microtubules*
  • Models, Theoretical