Emergence of log-normal type distributions in avalanche processes in living systems: a network model

S Polizzi, Alain Arneodo, FJ Perez-Reche, F Argoul* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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Actin is the major cytoskeletal protein of mammal cells that forms microfilaments organized into higher-order structures by a dynamic assembly-disassembly mechanism with cross-linkers. These networks provide the cells with mechanical support, and allow cells to change their shape, migrate, divide and develop a mechanical communication with their environment. The quick adaptation of these networks upon stretch or compression is important for cell survival in real situations. Using atomic force microscopy to poke living cells with sharp tips, we revealed that they respond to a local and quick shear through a cascade of random and abrupt ruptures of their cytoskeleton, suggesting that they behave as a quasi-rigid random network of intertwined filaments. Surprisingly, the distribution of the strength and the size of these rupture events did not follow power-law statistics but log-normal statistics, suggesting that the mechanics of living cells would not fit into self-organized critical systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number613962
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Applied Mathematics and Statistics
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

We acknowledge financial support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR grant number ANR-18-CE45-0012-01) and from the French Research Minister (MESRI) for SP. PhD funding.
We are very grateful for the participants of the second ISINP meeting at Lake Como for stimulating exchanges about our talk. We are thanful to P. Argoul, A. Guillet, E. Hartè, L. Delmarre for fruitful discussions. SP wishes to thank T. Matteuzzi for his inspiring considerations. We are indebted to Erika Polizzi for her graphical help.


  • random network
  • avalanches
  • log-normal distributions
  • power-law
  • cell plasticity
  • cytoskeleton ruptures


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