DOI: 10.14704/nq.2010.8.3.299

Continuum Electrostatics in Cell Biology

Lucian John Gagliardi


Recent experiments revealing possible nanoscale electrostatic interactions in force generation at kinetochores for chromosome motions have prompted speculation regarding possible models for interactions between positively charged molecules in kinetochores and negative charge on C-termini near the plus ends of microtubules. A clear picture of how kinetochores establish and maintain a dynamic coupling to microtubules for force generation during the complex motions of mitosis remains elusive. The current paradigm of molecular cell biology requires that specific molecules, or molecular geometries, for force generation be identified. However it is possible to account for mitotic motions within a classical electrostatics approach in terms of experimentally known cellular electric charge acting over nanometer distances. These charges are modeled as bound surface and volume continuum charge distributions. Electrostatic consequences of intracellular pH changes during mitosis may provide a master clock for the events of mitosis.


electric charge; chromosome motility; mitosis

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