We propose a minimal model for the spontaneous and persistent generation of polarity in a spherical cell based on dynamic microtubules and a single mobile molecular component. This component, dubbed the polarity factor, binds to microtubules nucleated from a centrosome located in the center of the cell, is subsequently delivered to the cell membrane, where it diffuses until it unbinds. The only feedback mechanism we impose is that the residence time of the microtubules at the membrane increases with the local density of the polarity factor. We show analytically that this system supports a stable unipolar symmetrybroken state for a wide range of parameters. We validate the predictions of the model by 2D particle-based simulations. Our model provides a route towards the creation of polarity in a minimal cell-like environment using a biochemical reconstitution approach.

PLoS One
Theory of Biomolecular Matter

Foteinopoulos, P., & Mulder, B. (2017). A microtubule-based minimal model for spontaneous and persistent cell polarity. PLoS One, 12(9, Article number: e0184706), 1–15. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0184706