Cytoplasmic Electric Fields and Electroosmosis: Possible Solution for the Paradoxes of the Intracellular Transport of Biomolecules

Victor P. Andreev

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The objective of the paper is to show that electroosmotic flow might play an important role in the intracellular transport of biomolecules. The paper presents two mathematical models describing the role of electroosmosis in the transport of the negatively charged messenger proteins to the negatively charged nucleus and in the recovery of the fluorescence after photobleaching. The parameters of the models were derived from the extensive review of the literature data. Computer simulations were performed within the COMSOL 4.2a software environment. The first model demonstrated that the presence of electroosmosis might intensify the flux of messenger proteins to the nucleus and allow the efficient transport of the negatively charged phosphorylated messenger proteins against the electrostatic repulsion of the negatively charged nucleus. The second model revealed that the presence of the electroosmotic flow made the time of fluorescence recovery dependent on the position of the bleaching spot relative to cellular membrane. The magnitude of the electroosmotic flow effect was shown to be quite substantial, i.e. increasing the flux of the messengers onto the nucleus up to 4-fold relative to pure diffusion and resulting in the up to 3-fold change in the values of fluorescence recovery time, and therefore the apparent diffusion coefficient determined from the fluorescence recovery after photobleaching experiments. Based on the results of the modeling and on the universal nature of the electroosmotic flow, the potential wider implications of electroosmotic flow in the intracellular and extracellular biological processes are discussed. Both models are available for download at ModelDB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere61884
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 16 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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