Electro-Acoustic Behavior of the Mitotic Spindle: A Semi-Classical Coarse-Grained Model

Havelka, Daniel and Kuvera, Ondvej and Deriu, Marco Agostino and Cifra, Michal (2014) Electro-Acoustic Behavior of the Mitotic Spindle: A Semi-Classical Coarse-Grained Model. PLoS ONE, 9 (1). e86501. ISSN 1932-6203

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The regulation of chromosome separation during mitosis is not fully understood yet. Microtubules forming mitotic spindles are targets of treatment strategies which are aimed at (i) the triggering of the apoptosis or (ii) the interruption of uncontrolled cell division. Despite these facts, only few physical models relating to the dynamics of mitotic spindles exist up to now. In this paper, we present the first electromechanical model which enables calculation of the electromagnetic field coupled to acoustic vibrations of the mitotic spindle. This electromagnetic field originates from the electrical polarity of microtubules which form the mitotic spindle. The model is based on the approximation of resonantly vibrating microtubules by a network of oscillating electric dipoles. Our computational results predict the existence of a rapidly changing electric field which is generated by either driven or endogenous vibrations of the mitotic spindle. For certain values of parameters, the intensity of the electric field and its gradient reach values which may exert a not-inconsiderable force on chromosomes which are aligned in the spindle midzone. Our model may describe possible mechanisms of the effects of ultra-short electrical and mechanical pulses on dividing cells—a strategy used in novel methods for cancer treatment.

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