Calcium regulates cortex contraction in Physarum polycephalum

Bjoern Kscheschinski, Mirna Kramar, Karen Alim

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


The tubular network-forming slime mold Physarum polycephalum is able to maintain long-scale contraction patterns driven by an actomyosin cortex. The resulting shuttle streaming in the network is crucial for the organism to respond to external stimuli and reorganize its body mass giving rise to complex behaviors. However, the chemical basis of the self-organized flow pattern is not fully understood. Here, we present ratiometric measurements of free intracellular calcium in simple morphologies of Physarum networks. The spatiotemporal patterns of the free calcium concentration reveal a nearly anti-correlated relation to the tube radius, suggesting that calcium is indeed a key regulator of the actomyosin activity. We compare the experimentally observed phase relation between the radius and the calcium concentration to the predictions of a theoretical model including calcium as an inhibitor. Numerical simulations of the model suggest that calcium indeed inhibits the contractions in Physarum, although a quantitative difference to the experimentally measured phase relation remains. Unraveling the mechanism underlying the contraction patterns is a key step in gaining further insight into the principles of Physarum’s complex behavior.

FachzeitschriftPhysical Biology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 1 Jan. 2024


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