A minimal actomyosin-based model predicts the dynamics of filopodia on neuronal dendrites

Olena O. Marchenko, Sulagna Das, Ji Yu, Igor L. Novak, Vladimir I. Rodionov, Nadia Efimova, Tatyana Svitkina, Charles W. Wolgemuth, Leslie M. Loew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Dendritic filopodia are actin-filled dynamic subcellular structures that sprout on neuronal dendrites during neurogenesis. The exploratory motion of the filopodia is crucial for synaptogenesis, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. To study filopodial motility, we collected and analyzed image data on filopodia in cultured rat hippocampal neurons. We hypothesized that mechanical feedback among the actin retrograde flow, myosin activity, and substrate adhesion gives rise to various filopodial behaviors. We formulated a minimal one-dimensional partial differential equation model that reproduced the range of observed motility. To validate our model, we systematically manipulated experimental correlates of parameters in the model: substrate adhesion strength, actin polymerization rate, myosin contractility, and the integrity of the putative microtubule-based barrier at the filopodium base. The model predicts the response of the system to each of these experimental perturbations, supporting the hypothesis that our actomyosin-driven mechanism controls dendritic filopodia dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1021-1033
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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