Stochastic dynamics and mechanosensitivity of myosin II minifilaments
2014
Authors: Albert PJ, Erdmann T, Schwarz US
CellNetworks People: Schwarz Ulrich
Journal: New Journal of Physics, 16(9):093019, 2014.

Tissue cells are in a state of permanent mechanical tension that is maintained mainly by myosin II minifilaments, which are bipolar assemblies of tens of myosin II molecular motors contracting actin networks and bundles. Here we introduce a stochastic model for myosin II minifilaments as two small myosin II motor ensembles engaging in a stochastic tug-of-war. Each of the two ensembles is described by the parallel cluster model that allows us to use exact stochastic simulations and at the same time to keep important molecular details of the myosin II cross-bridge cycle. Our simulation and analytical results reveal a strong dependence of myosin II minifilament dynamics on environmental stiffness that is reminiscent of the cellular response to substrate stiffness. For small stiffness, minifilaments form transient crosslinks exerting short spikes of force with negligible mean. For large stiffness, minifilaments form near permanent crosslinks exerting a mean force which hardly depends on environmental elasticity. This functional switch arises because dissociation after the power stroke is suppressed by force (catch bonding) and because ensembles can no longer perform the power stroke at large forces. Symmetric myosin II minifilaments perform a random walk with an effective diffusion constant which decreases with increasing ensemble size, as demonstrated for rigid substrates with an analytical treatment.