The Effects of the Interplay between Motor and Brownian Forces on the Rheology of Active Gels

2018-03-26T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Andrés Córdoba
Active gels perform key mechanical roles inside the cell, such as cell division, motion, and force sensing. The unique mechanical properties required to perform such functions arise from the interactions between molecular motors and semiflexible polymeric filaments. Molecular motors can convert the energy released in the hydrolysis of ATP into forces of up to piconewton magnitudes. Moreover, the polymeric filaments that form active gels are flexible enough to respond to Brownian forces but also stiff enough to support the large tensions induced by the motor-generated forces. Brownian forces are expected to have a significant effect especially at motor activities at which stable noncontractile in vitro active gels are prepared for rheological measurements. Here, a microscopic mean-field theory of active gels originally formulated in the limit of motor-dominated dynamics is extended to include Brownian forces. In the model presented here, Brownian forces are included accurately, at real room temperature, even in systems with high motor activity. It is shown that a subtle interplay, or competition, between motor-generated forces and Brownian forces has an important impact on the mass transport and rheological properties of active gels. The model predictions show that at low frequencies the dynamic modulus of active gels is determined mostly by motor protein dynamics. However, Brownian forces significantly increase the breadth of the relaxation spectrum and can affect the shape of the dynamic modulus over a wide frequency range even for ratios of motor to Brownian forces of more than a hundred. Since the ratio between motor and Brownian forces is sensitive to ATP concentration, the results presented here shed some light on how the transient mechanical response of active gels changes with varying ATP concentration.