Physical modeling of the organization and dynamics of intracellular organelles

Abstract : Eukaryotic cells are highly compartmentalized into intracellular organelles, such as the endoplasmic reticulum, the Golgi apparatus, endosomes and lysosomes. These are dynamical structures bounded by lipid membranes, within which components undergo biochemical modification by enzymes, and between which components are constantly being exchanged. Despite their highly dynamical nature, their spatial organization is fairly well conserved over time, so that they could be seen as stationary states of a highly non-equilibrium, and multi-component system. On the other hand, this organization has been observed to be totally disorganized in pathologies or drug treatments. Self-organization in equilibrium systems is fairly well understood by means of phase diagrams where the occurrence of different phases (dispersed, condensed, phase separated) depends on physical parameters (concentrations, interaction energy between components). The situation is much less clear for non-equilibrium systems. It is therefore an exciting challenge to reach a quantitative understanding of the mechanisms dictating the intra-cellular organization, where active transport and biochemical modification by energy-consuming enzymes compete with purely passive phenomena such as diffusion. We design and study, both analytically and numerically, simple models of self-organization and transport in systems where a limited number of components may self-organize into larger structures by means of stochastic reactions. Our main fundamental question is to determine how the interplay between the dynamics of inter-organelle exchange (by means of vesicle secretion, transport and fusion) and the kinetics of biochemical maturation within organelles may yield a precise and robust organelle network. To this end we focus on one "stereotype" organelle, that is already multi-compartments and with a very rich dynamics of vesiculation, fusion and maturation: the Golgi Apparatus. We describe and understand the steady-state organization of such systems, in term of compartments' size and purity - how big and well sorted are the different compartments. From this steady-state, a vesicular transport spontaneously emerges, whose directionality is linked to the steady-state organization. It is anterograde in a pure regime, and retrograde in a mixed configuration. Local interaction between components being transported, and membranes are sufficient to bias those transport. This both change the kinetics of transport in the system, and thus their location in the compartments. How efficient the system is in sorting these elements, strongly relies on the steady-state organization and the vesicular transport.
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Jean-Patrick Vrel. Physical modeling of the organization and dynamics of intracellular organelles. Biological Physics [physics.bio-ph]. Université de Paris, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019UNIP5001⟩. ⟨tel-02454877⟩

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