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In the present work, we discuss two subjects related to the nonequilibrium dynamics of polymers or biological filaments adsorbed to two-dimensional substrates. The first part is dedicated to thermally activated dynamics of polymers on structured substrates in the presence or absence of a driving force. The structured substrate is represented by double-well or periodic potentials. We consider both homogeneous and point driving forces. Point-like driving forces can be realized in single molecule manipulation by atomic force microscopy tips. Uniform driving forces can be generated by hydrodynamic flow or by electric fields for charged polymers. In the second part, we consider collective filament motion in motility assays for motor proteins, where filaments glide over a motor-coated substrate. The model for the simulation of the filament dynamics contains interactive deformable filaments that move under the influence of forces from molecular motors and thermal noise. Motor tails are attached to the substrate and modeled as flexible polymers (entropic springs), motor heads perform a directed walk with a given force-velocity relation. We study the collective filament dynamics and pattern formation as a function of the motor and filament density, the force-velocity characteristics, the detachment rate of motor proteins and the filament interaction. In particular, the formation and statistics of filament patterns such as nematic ordering due to motor activity or clusters due to blocking effects are investigated. Our results are experimentally accessible and possible experimental realizations are discussed.

We study buckling instabilities of filaments in biological systems. Filaments in a cell are the building blocks of the cytoskeleton. They are responsible for the mechanical stability of cells and play an important role in intracellular transport by molecular motors, which transport cargo such as organelles along cytoskeletal filaments. Filaments of the cytoskeleton are semiflexible polymers, i.e., their bending energy is comparable to the thermal energy such that they can be viewed as elastic rods on the nanometer scale, which exhibit pronounced thermal fluctuations. Like macroscopic elastic rods, filaments can undergo a mechanical buckling instability under a compressive load. In the first part of the thesis, we study how this buckling instability is affected by the pronounced thermal fluctuations of the filaments. In cells, compressive loads on filaments can be generated by molecular motors. This happens, for example, during cell division in the mitotic spindle. In the second part of the thesis, we investigate how the stochastic nature of such motor-generated forces influences the buckling behavior of filaments. In chapter 2 we review briefly the buckling instability problem of rods on the macroscopic scale and introduce an analytical model for buckling of filaments or elastic rods in two spatial dimensions in the presence of thermal fluctuations. We present an analytical treatment of the buckling instability in the presence of thermal fluctuations based on a renormalization-like procedure in terms of the non-linear sigma model where we integrate out short-wavelength fluctuations in order to obtain an effective theory for the mode of the longest wavelength governing the buckling instability. We calculate the resulting shift of the critical force by fluctuation effects and find that, in two spatial dimensions, thermal fluctuations increase this force. Furthermore, in the buckled state, thermal fluctuations lead to an increase in the mean projected length of the filament in the force direction. As a function of the contour length, the mean projected length exhibits a cusp at the buckling instability, which becomes rounded by thermal fluctuations. Our main result is the observation that a buckled filament is stretched by thermal fluctuations, i.e., its mean projected length in the direction of the applied force increases by thermal fluctuations. Our analytical results are confirmed by Monte Carlo simulations for buckling of semiflexible filaments in two spatial dimensions. We also perform Monte Carlo simulations in higher spatial dimensions and show that the increase in projected length by thermal fluctuations is less pronounced than in two dimensions and strongly depends on the choice of the boundary conditions. In the second part of this work, we present a model for buckling of semiflexible filaments under the action of molecular motors. We investigate a system in which a group of motors moves along a clamped filament carrying a second filament as a cargo. The cargo-filament is pushed against the wall and eventually buckles. The force-generating motors can stochastically unbind and rebind to the filament during the buckling process. We formulate a stochastic model of this system and calculate the mean first passage time for the unbinding of all linking motors which corresponds to the transition back to the unbuckled state of the cargo filament in a mean-field model. Our results show that for sufficiently short microtubules the movement of kinesin-I-motors is affected by the load force generated by the cargo filament. Our predictions could be tested in future experiments.