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We use the oscillating Min proteins of Escherichia coli as a prototype system to illustrate the current state and potential of modeling protein dynamics in space and time. We demonstrate how a theoretical approach has led to striking new insights into the mechanisms of self-organization in bacterial cells and indicate how these ideas may be applicable to(More)
Developing cells acquire positional information by reading the graded distribution of morphogens. In Drosophila, the Dpp morphogen forms a long-range concentration gradient by spreading from a restricted source in the developing wing. It has been assumed that Dpp spreads by extracellular diffusion. Under this assumption, the main role of endocytosis in(More)
BACKGROUND Asymmetric division of the C. elegans zygote is due to the posterior-directed movement of the mitotic spindle during metaphase and anaphase. During this movement along the anterior-posterior axis, the spindle oscillates transversely. These motions are thought to be driven by a force-generating complex-possibly containing the motor protein(More)
Motor proteins that specifically interact with the ends of cytoskeletal filaments can induce filament depolymerization. A phenomenological description of this process is presented. We show that under certain conditions motors dynamically accumulate at the filament ends. We compare simulations of two microscopic models to the phenomenological description.(More)
A general framework for the description of active bundles of polar filaments is presented. The activity of the bundle results from mobile cross-links that induce relative displacements between the aligned filaments. Our generic description is based on momentum conservation within the bundle. By specifying the internal forces, a simple minimal model for the(More)
For biopolymers like cytoskeletal actin filaments and microtubules, assembly and disassembly are inherently dissipative processes. Molecular motors can affect the rates of subunit removal at filament ends. We introduce a driven lattice-gas model to study the effects of motor-induced depolymerization on the length of active biopolymers and find that(More)
During unequal cell division the mitotic spindle is positioned away from the center of the cell before cell cleavage. In many biological systems this repositioning is accompanied by oscillatory movements of the spindle. We present a theoretical description for mitotic spindle oscillations. We show that the cooperative attachment and detachment of cortical(More)
During division it is of primary importance for a cell to correctly determine the site of cleavage. The bacterium Escherichia coli divides in the center, producing two daughter cells of equal size. Selection of the center as the correct division site is in part achieved by the Min-proteins. They oscillate between the two cell poles and thereby prevent(More)
Spatio-temporal oscillations of the Min proteins are essential for selecting the cell division site in Escherichia coli. These oscillations are a key example of a biological phenomenon that can only be understood on a systems level rather than on the level of its individual components. Here, we review the key concepts that mathematical modelling has added(More)