Cluster coarsening on drops exhibits strong and sudden size-selectivity
Autophagy, an important process for degradation of cellular components, requires the targeting of autophagy receptor proteins to potential substrates. Receptor proteins have been observed to form clusters on membranes. To understand how receptor clusters might affect autophagy selectivity, we model cluster coarsening on a polydisperse collection of spherical drop-like substrates. Our model receptor corresponds to NBR1, which supports peroxisome autophagy. We recover dynamical scaling of cluster sizes, but find that changing the drop size distribution changes the cluster-size scaling distribution. The magnitude of this effect is similar to how changing the spatial-dimension affects scaling in bulk systems. We also observe a sudden onset of size-selection of the remaining drops with clusters, due to clusters evaporating from smaller drops and growing on larger drops. This coarsening-driven size selection provides a physical mechanism for autophagy selectivity, and may explain reports of size selection during peroxisome degradation.