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Molecular motors drive cytoskeletal rearrangements to change cell shape. Myosins are the motors that move, cross-link, and modify the actin cytoskeleton. The primary force generator in contractile actomyosin networks is nonmuscle myosin II (NMMII), a molecular motor that assembles into ensembles that bind, slide, and cross-link actin filaments (F-actin). The multivalence of NMMII ensembles and their multiple roles have confounded the resolution of crucial questions, including how the number of NMMII subunits affects dynamics and what affects the relative contribution of ensembles' cross-linking versus motoring activities. Because biophysical measurements of ensembles are sparse, modeling of actomyosin networks has aided in discovering the complex behaviors of NMMII ensembles. Myosin ensembles have been modeled via several strategies with variable discretization or coarse graining and unbinding dynamics, and although general assumptions that simplify motor ensembles result in global contractile behaviors, it remains unclear which strategies most accurately depict cellular activity. Here, we used an agent-based platform, Cytosim, to implement several models of NMMII ensembles. Comparing the effects of bond type, we found that ensembles of catch-slip and catch motors were the best force generators and binders of filaments. Slip motor ensembles were capable of generating force but unbound frequently, resulting in slower contractile rates of contractile networks. Coarse graining of these ensemble types from two sets of 16 motors on opposite ends of a stiff rod to two binders, each representing 16 motors, reduced force generation, contractility, and the total connectivity of filament networks for all ensemble types. A parallel cluster model, previously used to describe ensemble dynamics via statistical mechanics, allowed better contractility with coarse graining, though connectivity was still markedly reduced for this ensemble type with coarse graining. Together, our results reveal substantial tradeoffs associated with the process of coarse graining NMMII ensembles and highlight the robustness of discretized catch-slip ensembles in modeling actomyosin networks. Copyright © 2020 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Daniel B Cortes, Max Gordon, Francois Nédélec, Amy S Maddox. Bond Type and Discretization of Nonmuscle Myosin II Are Critical for Simulated Contractile Dynamics. Biophysical journal. 2020 Jun 02;118(11):2703-2717

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PMID: 32365328

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