Broken Detailed Balance of Filament Dynamics in Active Networks

J. Gladrow, N. Fakhri, F.C. MacKintosh, C.F. Schmidt, C.P. Broedersz

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Myosin motor proteins drive vigorous steady-state fluctuations in the actin cytoskeleton of cells. Endogenous embedded semiflexible filaments such as microtubules, or added filaments such as single-walled carbon nanotubes are used as novel tools to noninvasively track equilibrium and nonequilibrium fluctuations in such biopolymer networks. Here, we analytically calculate shape fluctuations of semiflexible probe filaments in a viscoelastic environment, driven out of equilibrium by motor activity. Transverse bending fluctuations of the probe filaments can be decomposed into dynamic normal modes. We find that these modes no longer evolve independently under nonequilibrium driving. This effective mode coupling results in nonzero circulatory currents in a conformational phase space, reflecting a violation of detailed balance. We present predictions for the characteristic frequencies associated with these currents and investigate how the temporal signatures of motor activity determine mode correlations, which we find to be consistent with recent experiments on microtubules embedded in cytoskeletal networks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number248301
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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