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  1. Some dividing cells sense their shape by becoming polarized along their long axis. Cell polarity is controlled in part by polarity proteins, like Rho GTPases, cycling between active membrane-bound forms and inactive cytosolic forms, modeled as a “wave-pinning” reaction-diffusion process. Does shape sensing emerge from wave pinning? We show that wave pinning senses the cell’s long axis. Simulating wave pinning on a curved surface, we find that high-activity domains migrate to peaks and troughs of the surface. For smooth surfaces, a simple rule of minimizing the domain perimeter while keeping its area fixed predicts the final position of the domain and its shape. However, when we introduce roughness to our surfaces, shape sensing can be disrupted, and high-activity domains can become localized to locations other than the global peaks and valleys of the surface. On rough surfaces, the domains of the wave-pinning model are more robust in finding the peaks and troughs than the minimization rule, although both can become trapped in steady states away from the peaks and valleys. We can control the robustness of shape sensing by altering the Rho GTPase diffusivity and the domain size. We also find that the shape-sensing properties of cell polarity models canmore »explain how domains localize to curved regions of deformed cells. Our results help to understand the factors that allow cells to sense their shape—and the limits that membrane roughness can place on this process.« less
  2. “Viscosity is the most ubiquitous dissipative mechanical behavior” (Maugin, 1999). Despite its ubiquity, even for those systems where the mechanisms causing viscous and other forms of dissipation are known there are only a few quantitative models that extract the macroscopic rheological response from these microscopic mechanisms. One such mechanism is the stochastic breaking and forming of bonds which is present in polymer networks with transient cross-links, strong inter-layer bonding between graphene sheets, and sliding dry friction. In this paper we utilize a simple yet flexible model to show analytically how stochastic bonds can induce an array of rheological behaviors at the macroscale. We find that varying the bond interactions induces a Maxwell-type macroscopic material behavior with Newtonian viscosity, shear thinning, shear thickening, or solid like friction when subjected to shear at constant rates. When bond rupture is independent of the force applied, Newtonian viscosity is the predominant behavior. When bond breaking is accelerated by the applied force, a shear thinning response becomes most prevalent. Further connections of the macroscopic response to the interaction potential and rates of bonding and unbonding are illustrated through phase diagrams and analysis of limiting cases. Finally, we apply this model to polymer networks and tomore »experimental data on “solid bridges” in polydisperse granular media. We imagine possible applications to material design through engineering bonds with specific interactions to bring about a desired macroscopic behavior.« less