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Self-organization and stability of magnetosome chains—a simulation study

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Kiani,  Bahareh
Stefan Klumpp, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Faivre,  Damien
Damien Faivre, Biomaterialien, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Klumpp,  Stefan
Stefan Klumpp, Theorie & Bio-Systeme, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kiani, B., Faivre, D., & Klumpp, S. (2018). Self-organization and stability of magnetosome chains—a simulation study. PLoS One, 13(1): e0190265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0190265.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-2D7E-2
Abstract
Magnetotactic bacteria orient in magnetic fields with the help of their magnetosome chain, a linear structure of membrane enclosed magnetic nanoparticles (magnetosomes) anchored to a cytoskeletal filament. Here, we use simulations to study the assembly and the stability of magnetosome chains. We introduce a computational model describing the attachment of the magnetosomes to the filament and their magnetic interactions. We show that the filamentous backbone is crucial for the robust assembly of the magnetic particles into a linear chain, which in turn is key for the functionality of the chain in cellular orientation and magnetically directed swimming. In addition, we simulate the response to an external magnetic field that is rotated away from the axis of the filament, an experimental method used to probe the mechanical stability of the chain. The competition between alignment along the filament and alignment with the external fields leads to the rupture of a chain if the applied field exceeeds a threshold value. These observations are in agreement with previous experiments at the population level. Beyond that, our simulations provide a detailed picture of chain rupture at the single cell level, which is found to happen through two abrupt events, which both depend on the field strength and orientation. The re-formation of the chain structure after such rupture is found to be strongly sped up in the presence of a magnetic field parallel to the filament, an observation that may also be of interest for the design of self-healing materials. Our simulations underline the dynamic nature of the magnetosome chain. More generally, they show the rich complexity of self-assembly in systems with competing driving forces for alignment.