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Cellular blebs: pressure-driven, axisymmetric, membrane protrusions

Presented by: 
Thomas Woolley University of Oxford
Tuesday 15th September 2015 - 13:30 to 14:15
INI Seminar Room 1
Human muscle undergoes an age-related loss in mass and function. Preservation of muscle mass depends, in part, on stem cells, which navigate along muscle fibres in order to repair damage. Critically, these stem cells have been observed to undergo a new type of motion that uses cell protrusions known as “blebs”, which protrude from the cell and permit it to squeeze in between surrounding material.  

By solving the diffusion equation in polar coordinates we have mathematically investigated this blebbing phenomenon with a particular focus on characterizing the effect of age on cell migration. Our results have then been fitted to experimental data allowing us demonstrate that young cells move in a random ‘‘memoryless’’ manner, whereas old cells demonstrate highly directed motion, which would inhibit the chances of a cell finding and repairing damaged tissue.

Further, we have constructed a mechanical model for the problem of pressure-driven blebs based on force and moment balances of an axisymmetric shell. Through investigating multiple extensions of this model we find numerous results concerning size, shape and limiting factors of blebs. Finally, leading us to consider much simpler equations which allow us to connect motion to mechanical properties of the cell, thus, coming full circle in our research.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons