Cellular Extensions Optimally Find Targets

Persistent random walk for airineme search process. If the protrusion is persistent, then it could miss the target by wrong directions. On the contrary, if the protrusion is too diffusive, it twines too much to reach the target in given time.

Does the nature really favor optimality? Yes, it is when cells form the stripe patterns during zebrafish development. Sometimes on the yellow stripe, a black pigment cell is misallocated. In order to fix it, a different type of black pigment cells, called xantoblasts, extend long and thin protrusions called airinemes to reach the misallocated cell. One important parameter of this search process is the angular diffusion, which determines the “curviness” of airinemes. In this project, we have shown that the search process has the “optimal” angular diffusion in the sense of the search probability. Interestingly, the theoretical optimal value coincides with the experimental estimation.

S Park* and H Kim*, Y Wang, DS Eom, J Allard, “Zebrafish airineme shape is optimized between ballistic search and diffusive search,” (2022) eLife. [bioRxiv] [DOI]

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