Schimmel/Conrades Science Center 163

“Modeling the Cytoskeleton Roads in Transport and Localization of Protein Cargoes”

The cellular cytoskeleton is essential in proper cell function as well as in organism development. These polymers provide the elaborate roads along which most intracellular protein transport occurs. I will discuss three examples where mathematical modeling provides exciting tools to study and understand the fascinating interactions between these filaments and motor proteins in cells. In Xenopus frog oocytes, differential equations modeling gives us insight into the mechanisms of the messenger RNA journey along microtubule highways and ultimately into its localization, which ensures proper embryo development. In neurons, we use stochastic simulations to understand how neurofilaments navigate axons and their constrictions, to maintain a healthy speed of neuronal communication. Finally, in the reproductive system of the worm C. elegans, we use agent-based modeling to study how myosin motors interact with actin filaments to maintain contractile rings that allow passage of developing egg cells through the worm’s body.

Dr. Veronica Ciocanel is a postdoctoral fellow with the Mathematical Biosciences Institute at The Ohio State University.