A master equation approach to actin polymerization applied to endocytosis in yeast

Xinxin Wang, Anders E. Carlsson

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10 Scopus citations


We present a Master Equation approach to calculating polymerization dynamics and force generation by branched actin networks at membranes. The method treats the time evolution of the F-actin distribution in three dimensions, with branching included as a directional spreading term. It is validated by comparison with stochastic simulations of force generation by actin polymerization at obstacles coated with actin “nucleation promoting factors” (NPFs). The method is then used to treat the dynamics of actin polymerization and force generation during endocytosis in yeast, using a model in which NPFs form a ring around the endocytic site, centered by a spot of molecules attaching the actin network strongly to the membrane. We find that a spontaneous actin filament nucleation mechanism is required for adequate forces to drive the process, that partial inhibition of branching and polymerization lead to different characteristic responses, and that a limited range of polymerization-rate values provide effective invagination and obtain correct predictions for the effects of mutations in the active regions of the NPFs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005901
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2017


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