Ciliary Waves

Eva Kanso
University South California
Motile cilia are micron-scale hair-like protrusions from epithelial cells that beat collectively to transport fluid. Individual cilia are driven into oscillatory motion by dynein molecular motors acting on an intricate structure of microtubule doublets referred to as the central axoneme. On the tissue level, cilia beat in a coordinated way and serve diverse biological functions, from mucociliary clearance in the airways to cerebrospinal fluid transport in the brain ventricles. Yet, the relationship between the structure and organization of ciliated tissues and their biological function remains elusive. Here, I will present a series of physics-based models that take into account minimal cilia features in order to examine: (1) the emergence of self-sustained oscillations in individual cilia, (2) the coordinated beating of neighboring cilia, and (3) the role of cilia-driven flows in particle transport, mixing, capture and filtering. I will conclude by commenting on the implications of these models to understanding the biophysical mechanisms underlying the interaction of ciliated tissues with microbial partners.