Active elastohydrodynamics of vesicles in narrow blind constrictions

T.G. Fai, R. Kusters, J. Harting, C.H. Rycroft, L. Mahadevan

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Fluid-resistance limited transport of vesicles through narrow constrictions is a recurring theme in many biological and engineering applications. Inspired by the motor-driven movement of soft membrane-bound vesicles into closed neuronal dendritic spines, here we study this problem using a combination of passive three-dimensional simulations and a simplified semianalytical theory for the active transport of vesicles forced through constrictions by molecular motors. We show that the motion of these objects is characterized by two dimensionless quantities related to the geometry and to the strength of forcing relative to the vesicle elasticity. We use numerical simulations to characterize the transit time for a vesicle forced by fluid pressure through a constriction in a channel and find that relative to an open channel, transport into a blind end leads to the formation of a smaller forward-flowing lubrication layer that strongly impedes motion. When the fluid pressure forcing is complemented by forces due to molecular motors that are responsible for vesicle trafficking into dendritic spines, we find that the competition between motor forcing and fluid drag results in multistable dynamics reminiscent of the real system. Our study highlights the role of nonlocal hydrodynamic effects in determining the kinetics of vesicular transport in constricted geometries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113601
Number of pages25
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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