Modeling and topological data analysis for biological ring

Veronica Ciocanel
Department of Mathematics
Duke University


Actin filaments are polymers that interact with myosin motor  proteins inside cells and play important roles in cell motility, shape, and development. Depending on its function, this dynamic network of interacting proteins reshapes and organizes in a variety of structures,  including bundles, clusters, and contractile rings. Motivated by observations from the reproductive system of the roundworm C. elegans, we use an agent-based modeling framework to simulate interactions between actin filaments and myosin motor proteins inside cells. We also develop tools based on topological data analysis to understand time series data extracted from these filamentous network interactions. We use these tools to compare the filament organization resulting from myosin motors with different properties. We are currently interested in gaining insights into myosin motor regulation and the resulting actin architectures during cell cycle progression. This work also raises questions about how to assess the significance of topological features in common topological summary visualizations.