Daniel Coombs, Mathematics, University of British Columbia
Individual and population approaches to cell surface receptor motion
Cell surface receptors are mobile in the cell membrane and the details of their motion appear to be critical in controlling cellular responses to defined stimuli. Experimental cell biologists routinely label receptors with fluorescent tags, and their motion can then be studied individually (a "single particle tracking" experiment) or as a population (e.g. a "fluorescence recovery after photobleaching" experiment). In both cases, applied mathematicians have developed interesting techniques, based on ODE and PDE for populations and stochastic models of diffusion for individual molecules. I will talk about the experiments, the data and the models, and try to show how theoretical approaches can help us get the most out of the available information and verify or refute biological hypotheses.