Cell motion is driven by interplay between the actin cytoskeleton and the cell adhesions in the front part of the cell. The actin network segregates into lamellipodium and lamellum, whereas the adhesion complexes are characteristically distributed underneath the actin system. Here, we suggest a computational model for this characteristic organization of the actin-adhesion system. The model is based on the ability of the adhesion complexes to sense mechanical forces, the stick-slip character of the interaction between the adhesions and the moving actin network, and a hypothetical propensity of the actin network to disintegrate upon sufficiently strong stretching stresses. We identify numerically three possible types of system organization, all observed in living cells: two states in which the actin network exhibits segregation into lamellipodium and lamellum, whereas the cell edge either remains stationary or moves, and a state where the actin network does not undergo segregation. The model recovers the asynchronous fluctuations and outward bulging of the cell edge, and the dependence of the edge protrusion velocity on the rate of the nascent adhesion generation, the membrane tension, and the substrate rigidity.
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