Biopolymer motors generate movement by using the energy of
polymerization/depolymerization. In contrast to molecular
motor enzymes such as dynein or kinesin, which use ATP and are
recruited and reused in various locations of the cell,
biopolymer motors are only assembled to perform work at
specific locations and are then dissasembled. In mammalian
cells, chromosomes interact with many dynamic microtubules
while they move to the cell equator. We have proposed a
mathematical model for how kinetochore filaments can be
coupled with dynamic microtubules to generate movement. We
find that the resulting force-velocity relations are
non-linear and that motility characteristics depend on the
individual kinetochore filament binding strengths. I am
interested in modeling the dynamic interactions between
various kinetochore proteins and microtubules. In general, I
am interested in the collective behavior of active and passive
molecular motor assays. The details of interactions between
these cellular machines are important for the formation of
eukaryotic mitotic spindles and the proper progression of cell
During mitosis, cells have to ensure that precisely half of
the replicated DNA is allocated to each daughter cell.
Accuracy is achieved with the help of a complex biochemical
regulatory network, which keeps track of the microtubule
attachment status of each moving chromosome during division.
Even a single lost attachment will put division into a hold!
The surveillance of a chromosome requires that a cell know not
only the attachment status but also the amount of force that
each chromosome is sustaining due to its interactions with the
mitotic spindle. We have shown that mechanochemical feedbacks
are important in assuring proper mitosis progression. I am
interested in modeling the mechanisms mediating the
integration of biochemical and mechanical signals during
mitosis in mammalian cells.
A. Matzavinos, B. Shtylla, Z. Voller, S. Liu, and M. A.J. Chaplain. Stochastic modelling of chromosomal segregation: Errors can introduce correction, 2013, (in revision).
There are various venues for participation in research for students that are interested in mathematical biology:
1. Research assistant (academic year or summer): contact me directly if interested.
2. 5C SURP or HHMI funded fellows can work on problems in mathematical biology with me here.
3. Senior Thesis in Mathematics as part of the senior exercise, if you are a double major looking for a primer on interdisciplinary research this might be a great option. It is preferable that you contact me during your Junior year to explore options. Some generic instructions about senior thesis in mathematics are here and for interdisciplinary projects here. I am happy to discuss Mathematics Thesis research projects, especially if you are a junior math major at Pomona college. Some examples of thesis projects I have supervised are listed below.
A full schedule of our exciting thesis presentations and topics can be found here . If you want to find out more about this, come and join us for the talks!
"Mathematical Modeling of chromosome segregation and organization in bacteria"