Energetics and dynamics of constrained actin filament bundling

Le Yang, David Sept, A. E. Carlsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The formation of filopodia-like bundles from a dendritic actin network has been observed to occur in vitro as a result of branching induced by Arp2/3 complex. We study both the energetics and dynamics of actin filament bundling in such a network to evaluate their relative importance in bundle formation processes. Our model considers two semiflexible actin filaments fixed at one end and free at the other, described using a normal-mode approximation. This model is studied by both Brownian dynamics and free-energy minimization methods. Remarkably, even short filaments can bundle at separations comparable to their lengths. In the dynamic simulations, we evaluate the time required for the filaments to interact and bind, and examine the dependence of this bundling time on the filament length, the distance between the filament bases, and the cross-linking energy. In most cases, bundling occurs in a second or less. Beyond a certain critical distance, we find that the bundling time increases very rapidly with increasing interfilament separation and/or decreasing filament length. For most of the cases we have studied, the energetics results for this critical distance are similar to those obtained from dynamics simulations run for 10 s, suggesting that beyond this timescale, energetics, rather than kinetic constraints, determine whether or not bundling occurs. Over a broad range of conditions, we find that the times required for bundling from a network are compatible with experimental observations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4295-4304
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 2006


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