Title: A field-theoretic approach to microtubule growth
Author: Johannes Pausch
Microtubule filaments are a major part of the cytoskeleton. They influence the shape and movement of the cell and are used for transport processes inside the cell. Microtubules grow and shrink by polymerising and depolymerising, that is by absorbing and emitting tubulin which diffusively spread in the cytoplasm. Here, we model the stochastic process of microtubule growth as a field theory.
In our model, we recover the classic diffusion and diffusion-convection results. Furthermore, we are able to model the tubulin-absorption-induced spatially discrete growth of the microtubule filament and find analytic real space results. Our approach produces analytic expressions in Fourier space that require a short-length scale cutoff in two dimensions and above. It is particularly flexible to incorporate more complex interactions between microtubules and tubulin. In one dimension, our results are easily compared to corresponding results using probabilistic techniques. Overall, we demonstrate that the field-theoretic framework is a more flexible and expandable alternative to classic approaches.