Many important processes in the cell are mediated by stiff microtubule biopolymers and active motor proteins moving upon them. This includes the transport of subcellular structures — nuclei, chromosomes, organelles — and the self-assembly, positioning, and maintenance of the mitotic spindle. I will discuss recent work in modeling and simulating some of these phenomena as multi-scale, geometrically complex problems in fluid/structure interactions. My focus will be on a large-scale computational model of how the pronuclear complex, with its hundreds of attendant microtubules, moves into “proper position” within an embryonic cell prior to cell division. Different assumptions on how the microtubules interact with the cell’s cytoplasm (the fluidic interior) and its periphery give very different predictions for this dynamics.
Part of the 2015 AMSI-ANZIAM Lecture Tour