Cell Polarization


We are interested in understanding how cells establish monopolar and bipolar growth patterns and how these patterns contribute to cell shape.

In collaboration with the lab of Fulvia Verde (University of Miami) we studied the kinetics of polarity protein Cdc42 that exhibits anti-correlated oscillations at cell tips. Click here to read about our model of Cdc42 oscillations and how they contribute to the initiation of bipolar growth.

In collaboration with the group of Sophie Martin (University of Lausanne) we study how cells polarize toward their mating partners during fission yeast mating. We have modeled the exploratory search for a partner as an optimization strategy. We also modeled the molecular mechanisms driving this exploration based on the local activation of Ras1.  

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Our group has proposed models of how formin-mediated actin cables assemble at cell tips in fission and budding yeast.

A graphical Java simulation of a model of actin cable turnover allowing the user to change parameters values is available here.



  1. B. Khalili, L. Merlini, V. Vincenzetti, S. G. Martin, and D. Vavylonis, "Exploration and Stabilization of Ras1 Mating Zone: a Mechanism with Positive and Negative Feedbacks" (2017, submitted).
  2. L. Merlini, B. Khalili, F. O. BendezĂș, D. Hurwitz, V. Vincenzetti, D. Vavylonis, S. M. Martin, "Local pheromone release from dynamic polarity sites underlies cell-cell pairing during yeast mating," CURRENT BIOLOGY 26:1117-1125 (2016).
  3. H. Tang, T. C. Bidone, D. Vavylonis, "Computational model of polarized actin cables and contractile actin ring formation  in budding yeast," CYTOSKELETON, 72: 517-533 (2015).
  4. H. Tang, D. Laporte and D. Vavylonis, "Actin cable distribution and dynamics arising from cross-linking, motor-pulling and filament turnover," MOL. BIOL. CELL 25:3006-3016 (2014) .
  5. T. Drake and D. Vavylonis, "Model of fission yeast cell shape driven by membrane-bound growth factors and the cytoskeleton," PLOS COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY, 9:e1003287 (2013).
  6. M. Das, T. Drake, D. Wiley, P. Buchwald, D. Vavylonis and F. Verde, "Oscillatory dynamics of Cdc42 GTPase in the control of polarized growth," SCIENCE 337:239-243 (2012).  
  7. T. Drake, E. Yusuf and D. Vavylonis, "A Systems-Biology Approach to Yeast Actin Cables", in "Advances in Systems Biology", Springer series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 736:325-35 (2012).  
  8. T. Drake and D. Vavylonis, "Cytoskeletal Dynamics in Fission Yeast: A Review of Models for Polarization and Division," HFSP J., 4 122-130 (2010).
  9. H. Wang and D. Vavylonis, "Model of For3p-mediated actin cable assembly in fission yeast," Plos ONE, 3 e4078 (2008).