Bidirectional motion of filaments: the role of motor proteins and passive cross linkers
In eukaryotic cells, motor proteins (MPs) bind to cytoskeletal filaments and move along them in a directed manner generating active stresses. During cell division a spindle structure of overlapping antiparallel microtubules forms whose stability and dynamics under the influence of MPs have been studied extensively. Although passive cross linkers (PCLs) are known to provide structural stability to a filamentous network, consequences of the interplay between ATP dependent active forces of MPs and passive entropic forces of PCLs on filamentous overlap remain largely unexplored. Here, we formulate and characterize a model to study this, using linear stability analysis and numerical integration. In the presence of PCLs, we find dynamic phase transitions with changing activity exhibiting regimes of stable partial overlap with or without oscillations, instability towards complete overlap, and stable limit cycle oscillations that emerge via a supercritical Hopf bifurcation characterized by an oscillation frequency determined by the MP and PCL parameters. We show that the overlap dynamics and stability depend crucially on whether both the filaments of an overlapping pair are movable or one is immobilized, having potential implications for in vivo and in vitro studies.