Spiral actin-polymerization waves can generate amoeboidal cell crawling

A. Dreher, I. S. Aranson, K. Kruse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Amoeboidal cell crawling on solid substrates is characterized by protrusions that seemingly appear randomly along the cell periphery and drive the cell forward. For many cell types, it is known that the protrusions result from polymerization of the actin cytoskeleton. However, little is known about how the formation of protrusions is triggered and whether the appearance of subsequent protrusions is coordinated. Recently, the spontaneous formation of actin-polymerization waves was observed. These waves have been proposed to orchestrate the cytoskeletal dynamics during cell crawling. Here, we study the impact of cytoskeletal polymerization waves on cell migration using a phase-field approach. In addition to directionally moving cells, we find states reminiscent of amoeboidal cell crawling. In this framework, new protrusions are seen to emerge from a nucleation process, generating spiral actin waves in the cell interior. Nucleation of new spirals does not require noise, but occurs in a state that is apparently displaying spatio-temporal chaos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number055007
JournalNew Journal of Physics
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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