Emergent Spatiotemporal Organization in Stochastic Intracellular Transport Dynamics

Annu Rev Biophys. 2024 Feb 12. doi: 10.1146/annurev-biophys-030422-044448. Online ahead of print.


The interior of a living cell is an active, fluctuating, and crowded environment, yet it maintains a high level of coherent organization. This dichotomy is readily apparent in the intracellular transport system of the cell. Membrane-bound compartments called endosomes play a key role in carrying cargo, in conjunction with myriad components including cargo adaptor proteins, membrane sculptors, motor proteins, and the cytoskeleton. These components coordinate to effectively navigate the crowded cell interior and transport cargo to specific intracellular locations, even though the underlying protein interactions and enzymatic reactions exhibit stochastic behavior. A major challenge is to measure, analyze, and understand how, despite the inherent stochasticity of the constituent processes, the collective outcomes show an emergent spatiotemporal order that is precise and robust. This review focuses on this intriguing dichotomy, providing insights into the known mechanisms of noise suppression and noise utilization in intracellular transport processes, and also identifies opportunities for future inquiry. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Biophysics, Volume 53 is May 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.

Publication types

  • Review