Membrane shape-mediated wave propagation of cortical protein dynamics

Zhanghan Wu, Maohan Su, Cheesan Tong, Min Wu, Jian Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune cells exhibit stimulation-dependent traveling waves in the cortex, much faster than typical cortical actin waves. These waves reflect rhythmic assembly of both actin machinery and peripheral membrane proteins such as F-BAR domain-containing proteins. Combining theory and experiments, we develop a mechanochemical feedback model involving membrane shape changes and F-BAR proteins that render the cortex an interesting dynamical system. We show that such cortical dynamics manifests itself as ultrafast traveling waves of cortical proteins, in which the curvature sensitivity-driven feedback always constrains protein lateral diffusion in wave propagation. The resulting protein wave propagation mainly reflects the spatial gradient in the timing of local protein recruitment from cytoplasm. We provide evidence that membrane undulations accompany these protein waves and potentiate their propagation. Therefore, membrane shape change and protein curvature sensitivity may have underappreciated roles in setting high-speed cortical signal transduction rhythms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number136
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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