How Cross-Link Numbers Shape the Large-Scale Physics of Cytoskeletal Materials

Sebastian Furthauer, Michael J. Shelley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cytoskeletal networks are the main actuators of cellular mechanics, and a foundational example for active matter physics. In cytoskeletal networks, motion is generated on small scales by filaments that push and pull on each other via molecular-scale motors. These local actuations give rise to large-scale stresses and motion. To understand how microscopic processes can give rise to self-organized behavior on larger scales it is important to consider what mechanisms mediate long-ranged mechanical interactions in the systems. Two scenarios have been considered in the recent literature. The first scenario is systems that are relatively sparse, in which most of the large-scale momentum transfer is mediated by the solvent in which cytoskeletal filaments are suspended. The second scenario is systems in which filaments are coupled via cross-link molecules throughout. Here, we review the differences and commonalities between the physics of these two regimes. We also survey the literature for the numbers that allow us to place a material within either of these two classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-384
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Condensed Matter Physics
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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