Pearling instability of membrane tubes driven by curved proteins and actin polymerization

U. Jelerčič, N. S. Gov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Membrane deformation inside living cells is crucial for the proper shaping of various intracellular organelles and is necessary during the fission/fusion processes that allow membrane recycling and transport (e.g. endocytosis). Proteins that induce membrane curvature play a key role in such processes, mostly by adsorbing to the membrane and forming a scaffold that deforms the membrane according to the curvature of the proteins. In this paper we explore the possibility of membrane tube destabilization through a pearling mechanism enabled by the combined effects of the adsorbed curved proteins and the actin polymerization that they recruit. The pearling instability can serve as the initiation for fission of the tube into vesicles. We find that adsorbed curved proteins are more likely to stabilize the tubes, while the actin polymerization can provide the additional constrictive force needed for the robust instability. We discuss the relevance of the theoretical results to in vivo and in vitro experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number066022
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 30 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • actin polymerization
  • curved proteins
  • lipid tubes
  • pearling instability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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