Anomalous diffusion due to hindering by mobile obstacles undergoing Brownian motion or Orstein-Ulhenbeck processes

Hugues Berry 1, * Hugues Chaté 2, *
* Corresponding author
1 BEAGLE - Artificial Evolution and Computational Biology
LBBE - Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive - UMR 5558, Inria Grenoble - Rhône-Alpes, LIRIS - Laboratoire d'InfoRmatique en Image et Systèmes d'information
Abstract : In vivo measurements of the passive movements of biomolecules or vesicles in cells consistently report ''anomalous diffusion'', where mean-squared displacements scale as a power law of time with exponent $\alpha< 1$ (subdiffusion). While the detailed mechanisms causing such behaviors are not always elucidated, movement hindrance by obstacles is often invoked. However, our understanding of how hindered diffusion leads to subdiffusion is based on diffusion amidst randomly-located \textit{immobile} obstacles. Here, we have used Monte-Carlo simulations to investigate transient subdiffusion due to \textit{mobile} obstacles with various modes of mobility. Our simulations confirm that the anomalous regimes rapidly disappear when the obstacles move by Brownian motion. By contrast, mobile obstacles with more confined displacements, e.g. Orstein-Ulhenbeck motion, are shown to preserve subdiffusive regimes. The mean-squared displacement of tracked protein displays convincing power-laws with anomalous exponent $\alpha$ that varies with the density of OU obstacles or the relaxation time-scale of the OU process. In particular, some of the values we observed are significantly below the universal value predicted for immobile obstacles in 2d. Therefore, our results show that subdiffusion due to mobile obstacles with OU-type of motion may account for the large variation range exhibited by experimental measurements in living cells and may explain that some experimental estimates are below the universal value predicted for immobile obstacles.
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Hugues Berry, Hugues Chaté. Anomalous diffusion due to hindering by mobile obstacles undergoing Brownian motion or Orstein-Ulhenbeck processes. Physical Review E : Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, American Physical Society, 2014, 89 (2), 022708 (9 p.). ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.89.022708⟩. ⟨inria-00575651v2⟩

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