A design framework for actively crosslinked filament networks


Fürthauer S, Needleman DJ, Shelly MJ. A design framework for actively crosslinked filament networks. New Journal of Physics. 2021;(23).
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Living matter moves, deforms, and organizes itself. In cells this is made possible by networks of
polymer filaments and crosslinking molecules that connect filaments to each other and that act as
motors to do mechanical work on the network. For the case of highly cross-linked filament
networks, we discuss how the material properties of assemblies emerge from the forces exerted by
microscopic agents. First, we introduce a phenomenological model that characterizes the forces
that crosslink populations exert between filaments. Second, we derive a theory that predicts the
material properties of highly crosslinked filament networks, given the crosslinks present. Third, we
discuss which properties of crosslinks set the material properties and behavior of highly
crosslinked cytoskeletal networks. The work presented here, will enable the better understanding
of cytoskeletal mechanics and its molecular underpinnings. This theory is also a first step toward a
theory of how molecular perturbations impact cytoskeletal organization, and provides a
framework for designing cytoskeletal networks with desirable properties in the lab.