TitleActive segregation dynamics in the living cell
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBansal A, Das A, Rao M
Date Published05/2022

In this paper, we bring together our efforts in identifying and understanding nonequilibrium phase segregation driven by active processes in the living cell, with special focus on the segregation of cell membrane components driven by active contractile stresses arising from cortical actomyosin. This also has implications for active segregation dynamics in membraneless regions within the cytoplasm and nucleus (3d). We formulate an active version of the Flory-Huggins theory that incorporates a contribution from fluctuating active stresses. Apart from knitting together some of our past theoretical works in a comprehensive narrative, we highlight some new results, and establish a correspondence with recent studies on Active Model B/B+. We point to the many unusual aspects of the dynamics of active phase segregation, such as (i) Anomalous growth dynamics, (ii) Coarsening accompanied by propulsion and coalescence of domains that exhibit non-reciprocal effects, (iii) Segregation into mesoscale domains, (iv) Emergence of a nonequilibrium phase segregated steady state characterised by strong macroscopic fluctuations (fluctuation dominated phase ordering (FDPO)), and (v) Mesoscale segregation even above the equilibrium T-c. Apart from its implications for actively driven segregation of binary fluids, these ideas are at the heart of an Active Emulsion description of the lateral organisation of molecules on the plasma membrane of living cells, whose full molecular elaboration appears elsewhere.