Active Condensation of Filaments Under Spatial Confinement

Saad Ansari, Wen Yan, Adam Ray Lamson, Michael J. Shelley, Matthew A. Glaser, Meredith D. Betterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Living systems exhibit self-organization, a phenomenon that enables organisms to perform functions essential for life. The interior of living cells is a crowded environment in which the self-assembly of cytoskeletal networks is spatially constrained by membranes and organelles. Cytoskeletal filaments undergo active condensation in the presence of crosslinking motor proteins. In past studies, confinement has been shown to alter the morphology of active condensates. Here, we perform simulations to explore systems of filaments and crosslinking motors in a variety of confining geometries. We simulate spatial confinement imposed by hard spherical, cylindrical, and planar boundaries. These systems exhibit non-equilibrium condensation behavior where crosslinking motors condense a fraction of the overall filament population, leading to coexistence of vapor and condensed states. We find that the confinement lengthscale modifies the dynamics and condensate morphology. With end-pausing crosslinking motors, filaments self-organize into half asters and fully-symmetric asters under spherical confinement, polarity-sorted bilayers and bottle-brush-like states under cylindrical confinement, and flattened asters under planar confinement. The number of crosslinking motors controls the size and shape of condensates, with flattened asters becoming hollow and ring-like for larger motor number. End pausing plays a key role affecting condensate morphology: systems with end-pausing motors evolve into aster-like condensates while those with non-end-pausing crosslinking motor proteins evolve into disordered clusters and polarity-sorted bundles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number897255
JournalFrontiers in Physics
StatePublished - Jun 24 2022


  • active matter
  • condensation
  • confinement
  • crosslinking motors
  • filaments
  • microtubules
  • self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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