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Waves and dynamic patterns in chemical and physical systems have long interested experimentalists and theoreticians alike. Here we investigate a recent example within the context of cell biology, where waves of actin (a major component of the cytoskeleton) and its regulators (nucleation promoting factors, NPFs) are observed experimentally. We describe and analyze a minimal reaction diffusion model depicting the feedback between signalling proteins and filamentous actin (F-actin). Using numerical simulation, we show that this model displays a rich variety of patterning regimes. A relatively recent nonlinear stability method, the Local Perturbation Analysis (LPA), is used to map the parameter space of this model and explain the genesis of patterns in various linear and nonlinear patterning regimes. We compare our model for actin waves to others in the literature, and focus on transitions between static polarization, transient waves, periodic wave trains, and reflecting waves. We show, using LPA, that the spatially distributed model gives rise to dynamics that are absent in the kinetics alone. Finally, we show that the width and speed of the waves depend counter-intuitively on parameters such as rates of NPF activation, negative feedback, and the F-actin time scale.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.