School of Mathematics

Rhoda J Hawkins

Active matter droplets & applications to cell movement & deformation

The cell cytoskeleton can be successfully modelled as an 'active gel'. This is gel that is driven out of equilibrium by the consumption of biochemical energy. In particular myosin molecular motors exert forces on actin filaments resulting in contraction. Theoretical studies of active matter over the past two decades have shown it to have rich dynamics & behaviour. Here I will discuss finite droplets or active matter in which interactions with the boundaries play an important role. Displacement of the whole droplet is generated by flows of the contractile active gel inside. I will show how this depends on the average direction of cytoskeleton filaments and the boundary conditions at the edge of the model cell, which are set by interactions with the external environment. I will consider the shape deformation and movement of such droplets. Inspired by applications to cell movement and deformation I will discuss the behaviour of a layer of active gel surrounding a passive solid object as a model for the cell nucleus and discuss nucleus deformation.