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Instability-driven vesicle growth in biological cells

ashutosh.agrawal's picture

Journal: PNAS, published ahead of print, March 9 2015, doi:10.1073/pnas.1418491112

Title: Endocytic proteins drive vesicle growth via instability in high membrane tension environment

Authors: Nikhil Walani, Jennifer Torres, and Ashutosh Agrawal 

Biological cells are engaged in an incessant uptake of macromolecules for nutrition and inter- and intracellular communication; this entails significant local bending of the plasma membrane and formation of cargo-carrying vesicles executed by a designated set of membrane-deforming proteins. The energetic cost incurred in forming vesicles is directly related to the stressed state of the membrane and, hence, that of the cell. In this study, we reveal a protein-induced “snap-through instability” that offsets tension and drives vesicle growth during clathrin-mediated endocytosis, the main pathway for the transport of macromolecules into cells. Because these proteins (actin and BAR proteins) are involved in other interfacial rearrangements in cells, the predicted instability could be at play in cells at-large.

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