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Meindlhumer, Sabrina; Brauns, Fridtjof; Finžgar, Jernej Rudi; Kerssemakers, Jacob; Dekker, Cees; Frey, Erwin (2023): Directing Min protein patterns with advective bulk flow. Nature Communications, 14 (1). ISSN 2041-1723

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The Min proteins constitute the best-studied model system for pattern formation in cell biology. We theoretically predict and experimentally show that the propagation direction of in vitro Min protein patterns can be controlled by a hydrodynamic flow of the bulk solution. We find downstream propagation of Min wave patterns for low MinE:MinD concentration ratios, upstream propagation for large ratios, but multistability of both propagation directions in between. Whereas downstream propagation can be described by a minimal model that disregards MinE conformational switching, upstream propagation can be reproduced by a reduced switch model, where increased MinD bulk concentrations on the upstream side promote protein attachment. Our study demonstrates that a differential flow, where bulk flow advects protein concentrations in the bulk, but not on the surface, can control surface-pattern propagation. This suggests that flow can be used to probe molecular features and to constrain mathematical models for pattern-forming systems.

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