Lifetime of a structure evolving by cluster aggregation and particle loss, and application to postsynaptic scaffold domains
Physical review. E
The dynamics of several mesoscopic biological structures depend on the interplay of growth through the incorporation of components of different sizes laterally diffusing along the cell membrane, and loss by component turnover. In particular, a model of such an out-of-equilibrium dynamics has recently been proposed for postsynaptic scaffold domains, which are key structures of neuronal synapses. It is of interest to estimate the lifetime of these mesoscopic structures, especially in the context
... f synapses where this time is related to memory retention. The lifetime of a structure can be very long as compared to the turnover time of its components and it can be difficult to estimate it by direct numerical simulations. Here, in the context of the model proposed for postsynaptic scaffold domains, we approximate the aggregation-turnover dynamics by a shot-noise process. This enables us to analytically compute the quasistationary distribution describing the sizes of the surviving structures as well as their characteristic lifetime. We show that our analytical estimate agrees with numerical simulations of a full spatial model, in a regime of parameters where a direct assessment is computationally feasible. We then use our approach to estimate the lifetime of mesoscopic structures in parameter regimes where computer simulations would be prohibitively long. For gephyrin, the scaffolding protein specific to inhibitory synapses, we estimate a lifetime longer than several months for a scaffold domain when the single gephyrin protein turnover time is about half an hour, as experimentally measured. While our focus is on postsynaptic domains, our formalism and techniques should be applicable to other biological structures that are also formed by a balance of condensation and turnover.