Self-organized intracellular twisters

Sayantan Dutta, Reza Farhadifar, Wen Lu, Gokberk Kabacaoğlu, Robert Blackwell, David B. Stein, Margot Lakonishok, Vladimir I. Gelfand, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman, Michael J. Shelley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Life in complex systems, such as cities and organisms, comes to a standstill when global coordination of mass, energy and information flows is disrupted. Global coordination is no less important in single cells, especially in large oocytes and newly formed embryos, which commonly use fast fluid flows for dynamic reorganization of their cytoplasm. These cytoplasmic streaming flows have been proposed to spontaneously arise from hydrodynamic interactions among cortically anchored microtubules loaded with cargo-carrying molecular motors. Here, we combine modelling and simulation with live imaging to investigate such flows in the Drosophila oocyte. Using a fast, accurate and scalable numerical approach to investigate fluid–structure interactions of thousands of flexible fibres, we demonstrate the robust emergence and evolution of cell-spanning vortices—or twisters—in three-dimensional cellular geometries. These twister flows, dominated by a near-rigid-body rotation with secondary toroidal components, reproduce the variety of experimental observations. In cells, these flows are probably involved in rapid mixing and transport of ooplasmic components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-674
Number of pages9
JournalNature Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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