A theory that predicts behaviors of disordered cytoskeletal networks
Authors: Belmonte JM, Leptin M, Nédélec F
CellNetworks People: Nédélec François
Journal: Mol Syst Biol. 2017 Sep 27;13(9):941. doi: 10.15252/msb.20177796

Morphogenesis in animal tissues is largely driven by actomyosin networks, through tensions generated by an active contractile process. Although the network components and their properties are known, and networks can be reconstituted in vitro, the requirements for contractility are still poorly understood. Here, we describe a theory that predicts whether an isotropic network will contract, expand, or conserve its dimensions. This analytical theory correctly predicts the behavior of simulated networks, consisting of filaments with varying combinations of connectors, and reveals conditions under which networks of rigid filaments are either contractile or expansile. Our results suggest that pulsatility is an intrinsic behavior of contractile networks if the filaments are not stable but turn over. The theory offers a unifying framework to think about mechanisms of contractions or expansion. It provides the foundation for studying a broad range of processes involving cytoskeletal networks and a basis for designing synthetic networks.