Spatial and structural metrics for living cells inspired by statistical mechanics

Christoffer Åberg, Juan A Varela, Laurence W Fitzpatrick, Kenneth A Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Experimental observations in cell biology have advanced to a stage where theory could play a larger role, much as it has done in the physical sciences. Possibly the lack of a common framework within which experimentalists, computational scientists and theorists could equally contribute has hindered this development, for the worse of both disciplines. Here we demonstrate the usage of tools and concepts from statistical mechanics to describe processes inside living cells based on experimental data, suggesting that future theoretical/computational models may be based on such concepts. To illustrate the ideas, we describe the organisation of subcellular structures within the cell in terms of (density) pair correlation functions, and subsequently use the same concepts to follow nano-sized objects being transported inside the cell. Finally, we quantify an interesting subcellular re-organisation, not previously discerned by molecular biology methods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number34457
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2016


  • Cell line
  • Humans
  • Models
  • Biological


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