A3: Cooperative molecular motors as active cross-linkers that shape cytoskeletal network structure

Lead PI: Stefan Klumpp
Collaborating PIs: Helmut Grubmüller, Sarah Köster, Peter Lénárt, Tim Salditt, Peter Sollich, Claudia Steinem
Overarching research question: How does tunable processivity emerge in assemblies of non-processive molecular motors and how does it shape the structure of cytoskeletal networks?

The mechanical properties of cytoskeletal networks are controlled by their properties of the filaments and by their interactions that are often mediated by crosslinkers. Here we focus on active crosslinkers, which are often provided by complexes of multiple molecular motors. Using stochastic models of cooperative motors as well as network models for the cytoskeleton, we study how mechanical and dynamic properties of acto-myosin networks are shaped by properties of the individual components and how the cooperation between several motors provides an additional level of control for the network properties. To that end, we combine analytical approaches with simulations and develop models in close contact with the experimental groups in the RTG.

Core field: theoretical physics/mathematics
PhD training objectives: model development; simulations (stochastic kinetics, Monte Carlo, Langevin dynamics); theoretical methods (stochastic dynamics, nonequilibrium statistical physics); data analysis (simulation, theory-based inference from experimental data).