Active Cytoskeletal Composites Display Emergent Tunable Contractility and Restructuring [article]

Gloria Lee, Gregor Leech, Pancy Lwin, Jonathan Michel, Christopher Currie, Michael J Rust, Jennifer L Ross, Ryan J McGorty, Moumita Das, Rae M Robertson-Anderson
2021 bioRxiv   pre-print
The cytoskeleton is a model active matter system that controls diverse cellular processes from division to motility. While both active actomyosin dynamics and actin-microtubule interactions are key to the cytoskeleton's versatility and adaptability, an understanding of their interplay is lacking. Here, we couple microscale experiments with mechanistic modeling to elucidate how connectivity, rigidity, and force-generation affect emergent material properties in in vitro composites of actin,
more » ... n, and myosin. We use time-resolved differential dynamic microscopy and spatial image autocorrelation to show that ballistic contraction occurs in composites with sufficient flexibility and motor density, but that a critical fraction of microtubules is necessary to sustain controlled dynamics. Our active double-network models reveal that percolated actomyosin networks are essential for contraction, but that networks with comparable actin and microtubule densities can uniquely resist mechanical stresses while simultaneously supporting substantial restructuring. Our findings provide a much-needed blueprint for designing cytoskeleton-inspired materials that couple tunability with resilience and adaptability.
doi:10.1101/2021.04.08.439072 fatcat:6tzlhgsnp5g6beoqwycbpblu3m