A continuum model of protrusion of pseudopod in leukocytes.
Author: C Zhu
The morphology of human leukocytes, the biochemistry of actin polymerization, and the theory of continuum mechanics are used to model the pseudopod protrusion process of leukocytes. In the proposed model, the pseudopod is considered as a porous solid of F-actin network, the pores of which are full of aqueous solution. G-actin is considered as a "solute" transported by convection and diffusion in the fluid phase. The pseudopod grows as actin filaments elongate at their barbed ends at the tip of the pseudopod. The driving force of extension is hypothesized as being provided by the actin polymerization. It is assumed that elongation of actin filaments, powered by chemical energy liberated from the polymerization reaction, does mechanical work against opposing pressure on the membrane. This also gives rise to a pressure drop in the fluid phase at the tip of the pseudopod, which is formulated by an equation relating the work done by actin polymerization to the local state of pressure. The pressure gradient along the pseudopod drives the fluid filtration through the porous pseudopod according to Darcy's Law, which in turn brings more actin monomers to the growing tip. The main cell body serves as a reservoir of G-actin. A modified first-order equation is used to describe the kinetics of polymerization. The rate of pseudopod growth is modulated by regulatory proteins. A one-dimensional moving boundary problem based on the proposed mechanism has been constructed and approximate solutions have been obtained. Comparison of the solutions with experimental data shows that the model is compatible with available observations. The model is also applicable to growth of other cellular systems such as elongation of acrosomal process in sperm cells.