Principles that govern competition or co-existence in Rho-GTPase driven polarization.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Rho-GTPases are master regulators of polarity establishment and cell morphology. Positive feedback enables concentration of Rho-GTPases into clusters at the cell cortex, from where they regulate the cytoskeleton. Different cell types reproducibly generate either one (e.g. the front of a migrating cell) or several clusters (e.g. the multiple dendrites of a neuron), but the mechanistic basis for unipolar or multipolar outcomes is unclear. The design principles of Rho-GTPase circuits are captured by two-component reaction-diffusion models based on conserved aspects of Rho-GTPase biochemistry. Some such models display rapid winner-takes-all competition between clusters, yielding a unipolar outcome. Other models allow prolonged co-existence of clusters. We investigate the behavior of a simple class of models and show that while the timescale of competition varies enormously depending on model parameters, a single factor explains a large majority of this variation. The dominant factor concerns the degree to which the maximal active GTPase concentration in a cluster approaches a "saturation point" determined by model parameters. We suggest that both saturation and the effect of saturation on competition reflect fundamental properties of the Rho-GTPase polarity machinery, regardless of the specific feedback mechanism, which predict whether the system will generate unipolar or multipolar outcomes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chiou, J-G; Ramirez, SA; Elston, TC; Witelski, TP; Schaeffer, DG; Lew, DJ

Published Date

  • April 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 4

Start / End Page

  • e1006095 -

PubMed ID

  • 29649212

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5916526

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1553-7358

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006095


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States