Research ArticleBIOPHYSICS

Stratification relieves constraints from steric hindrance in the generation of compact actomyosin asters at the membrane cortex

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Science Advances  11 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 11, eaay6093
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay6093


Recent in vivo studies reveal that several membrane proteins are driven to form nanoclusters by active contractile flows arising from localized dynamic patterning of F-actin and myosin at the cortex. Since myosin-II assemble as minifilaments with tens of myosin heads, one might worry that steric considerations would obstruct the emergence of nanoclustering. Using coarse-grained, agent-based simulations that account for steric constraints, we find that the patterns exhibited by actomyosin in two dimensions, do not resemble the steady-state patterns in our in vitro reconstitution of actomyosin on a supported bilayer. We perform simulations in a thin rectangular slab, separating the layer of actin filaments from myosin-II minifilaments. This recapitulates the observed features of in vitro patterning. Using super resolution microscopy, we find evidence for such stratification in our in vitro system. Our study suggests that molecular stratification may be an important organizing feature of the cortical cytoskeleton in vivo.

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