Stochastic models of intracellular transport

Paul C. Bressloff, Jay M. Newby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

333 Scopus citations

Abstract

The interior of a living cell is a crowded, heterogenuous, fluctuating environment. Hence, a major challenge in modeling intracellular transport is to analyze stochastic processes within complex environments. Broadly speaking, there are two basic mechanisms for intracellular transport: passive diffusion and motor-driven active transport. Diffusive transport can be formulated in terms of the motion of an overdamped Brownian particle. On the other hand, active transport requires chemical energy, usually in the form of adenosine triphosphate hydrolysis, and can be direction specific, allowing biomolecules to be transported long distances; this is particularly important in neurons due to their complex geometry. In this review a wide range of analytical methods and models of intracellular transport is presented. In the case of diffusive transport, narrow escape problems, diffusion to a small target, confined and single-file diffusion, homogenization theory, and fractional diffusion are considered. In the case of active transport, Brownian ratchets, random walk models, exclusion processes, random intermittent search processes, quasi-steady-state reduction methods, and mean-field approximations are considered. Applications include receptor trafficking, axonal transport, membrane diffusion, nuclear transport, protein-DNA interactions, virus trafficking, and the self-organization of subcellular structures. © 2013 American Physical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-196
Number of pages62
JournalReviews of Modern Physics
Volume85
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 9 2013
Externally publishedYes

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