Nonequilibrium structure and dynamics in a microscopic model of thin-film active gels

D.A. Head, W.J. Briels, G. Gompper

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In the presence of adenosine triphosphate, molecular motors generate active force dipoles that drive suspensions of protein filaments far from thermodynamic equilibrium, leading to exotic dynamics and pattern formation. Microscopic modeling can help to quantify the relationship between individual motors plus filaments to organization and dynamics on molecular and supramolecular length scales. Here, we present results of extensive numerical simulations of active gels where the motors and filaments are confined between two infinite parallel plates. Thermal fluctuations and excluded-volume interactions between filaments are included. A systematic variation of rates for motor motion, attachment, and detachment, including a differential detachment rate from filament ends, reveals a range of nonequilibrium behavior. Strong motor binding produces structured filament aggregates that we refer to as asters, bundles, or layers, whose stability depends on motor speed and differential end detachment. The gross features of the dependence of the observed structures on the motor rate and the filament concentration can be captured by a simple one-filament model. Loosely bound aggregates exhibit superdiffusive mass transport, where filament translocation scales with lag time with nonunique exponents that depend on motor kinetics. An empirical data collapse of filament speed as a function of motor speed and end detachment is found, suggesting a dimensional reduction of the relevant parameter space. We conclude by discussing the perspectives of microscopic modeling in the field of active gels
Original languageEnglish
Article number032705
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-306878
  • IR-94997

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