Modelling the Formation of Ordered Acentrosomal Microtubule Arrays

Alexander Ross Mace
School of Computing Sciences, University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia, 2015

   title={Modelling the Formation of Ordered Acentrosomal Microtubule Arrays},

   author={Mace, Alexander Ross},


   school={University of East Anglia}


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Acentrosomal microtubules are not bound to a microtubule organising centre yet are still able to form ordered arrays. Two clear examples of this behaviour are the acentrosomal apico-basal (side wall) array in epithelial cells and the parallel organisation of plant cortical microtubules. This research investigates their formation through mathematical modelling and Monte Carlo simulations with the software programs developed ourselves. In epithelial cells there is a generally accepted ‘release and capture’ hypothesis for the transfer of centrosomal microtubules onto the side wall array. We use a combination of mathematical and Monte Carlo simulation models to perform the first modelling of this hypothesis. We find that a tubulin concentration dependent dynamic instability is not a good fit to this hypothesis but that a reduced centrosomal nucleation rate in response to an increased number of side wall microtubules makes the hypothesis work in biologically reasonable conditions. We propose that the loss of nucleation rate is a result of ninein being transferred from the centrosome to the side wall. We show OpenCL to be a useful tool in building a simulation program for parameter searches. We use a Monte Carlo simulation model to investigate how the collision induced catastrophe (CIC) probability affects the formation of the ordered array of cortical plant microtubules. We find that with entrainment an ordered array stops forming once the CIC drops below 0.5. We find that the severing action of katanin is able to restore order at CIC probabilities below 0.5 but the speed at which crossovers must be severed becomes unfeasibly fast as the CIC decreases. This implies that at very low CICs observed in nature (~0.1), katanin may be necessary but not sufficient to create the ordered array. We also provide a customisable and intuitive cortical microtubule simulation software to aid in further research.
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