In the framework of a phase field model of a single cell crawling on a substrate, we investigate how the properties of the cell membrane affect the shape and motility of the cell. Since the membrane influences the cell dynamics on multiple levels and provides a nontrivial feedback, we consider the following fundamental interactions: (i) the reduction of the actin polymerization rate by membrane tension; (ii) area conservation of the cell's two-dimensional cross-section vs. conservation of the circumference (i.e. membrane inextensibility); and (iii) the contribution from the membrane's bending energy to the shape and integrity of the cell. As in experiments, we investigate two pertinent observables - the cell's velocity and its aspect ratio. We find that the most important effect is the feedback of membrane tension on the actin polymerization. Bending rigidity has only minor effects, visible mostly in dynamic reshaping events, as exemplified by collisions of the cell with an obstacle.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Mathematical Physics
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Applied Mathematics