Dynamic cross-correlations between entangled biofilaments as they diffuse

Boyce Tsang, Zachary E. Dell, Lingxiang Jiang, Kenneth S. Schweizer, Steve Granick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Entanglement in polymer and biological physics involves a state in which linear interthreaded macromolecules in isotropic liquids diffuse in a spatially anisotropic manner beyond a characteristic mesoscopic time and length scale (tube diameter). The physical reason is that linear macromolecules become transiently localized in directions transverse to their backbone but diffuse with relative ease parallel to it. Within the resulting broad spectrum of relaxation times there is an extended period before the longest relaxation timewhen filaments occupy a time-Averaged cylindrical space of near-constant density. Here we show its implication with experiments based on fluorescence tracking of dilutely labeled macromolecules. The entangled pairs of aqueous F-Actin biofilaments diffuse with separation-dependent dynamic cross-correlations that exceed those expected from continuum hydrodynamics up to strikingly large spatial distances of ≈15 μm, which is more than 104 times the size of the solvent water molecules in which they are dissolved, and is more than 50 times the dynamic tube diameter, but is almost equal to the filament length. Modeling this entangled system as a collection of rigid rods, we present a statistical mechanical theory that predicts these long-range dynamic correlations as an emergent consequence of an effective long-range interpolymer repulsion due to the de Gennes correlation hole, which is a combined consequence of chain connectivity and uncrossability. The key physical assumption needed to make theory and experiment agree is that solutions of entangled biofilaments localized in tubes that are effectively dynamically incompressible over the relevant intermediate time and length scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3322-3327
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 28 2017


  • Biofilament
  • Cross-correlation
  • Entangled
  • Imaging
  • Reptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dynamic cross-correlations between entangled biofilaments as they diffuse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this