Multi-platform compatible software for analysis of polymer bending mechanics

John S. Graham, Brannon R. McCullough, Hyeran Kang, W. Austin Elam, Wenxiang Cao, Enrique M. De La Cruz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cytoskeletal polymers play a fundamental role in the responses of cells to both external and internal stresses. Quantitative knowledge of the mechanical properties of those polymers is essential for developing predictive models of cell mechanics and mechano-sensing. Linear cytoskeletal polymers, such as actin filaments and microtubules, can grow to cellular length scales at which they behave as semiflexible polymers that undergo thermally-driven shape deformations. Bending deformations are often modeled using the wormlike chain model. A quantitative metric of a polymer's resistance to bending is the persistence length, the fundamental parameter of that model. A polymer's bending persistence length is extracted from its shape as visualized using various imaging techniques. However, the analysis methodologies required for determining the persistence length are often not readily within reach of most biological researchers or educators. Motivated by that limitation, we developed user-friendly, multi-platform compatible software to determine the bending persistence length from images of surface-adsorbed or freely fluctuating polymers. Three different types of analysis are available (cosine correlation, end-to-end and bending-mode analyses), allowing for rigorous cross-checking of analysis results. The software is freely available and we provide sample data of adsorbed and fluctuating filaments and expected analysis results for educational and tutorial purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere94766T
JournalPloS one
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 16 2014

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