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Fragmentation and monomer lengthening of rod-like polymers, a relevant model for prion proliferation

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  • The Greer, Pujo-Menjouet and Webb model [Greer et al., J. Theoret. Biol., 242 (2006), 598--606] for prion dynamics was found to be in good agreement with experimental observations under no-flow conditions. The objective of this work is to generalize the problem to the framework of general polymerization-fragmentation under flow motion, motivated by the fact that laboratory work often involves prion dynamics under flow conditions in order to observe faster processes. Moreover, understanding and modelling the microstructure influence of macroscopically monitored non-Newtonian behaviour is crucial for sensor design, with the goal to provide practical information about ongoing molecular evolution. This paper's results can then be considered as one step in the mathematical understanding of such models, namely the proof of positivity and existence of solutions in suitable functional spaces. To that purpose, we introduce a new model based on the rigid-rod polymer theory to account for the polymer dynamics under flow conditions. As expected, when applied to the prion problem, in the absence of motion it reduces to that in Greer et al. (2006). At the heart of any polymer kinetical theory there is a configurational probability diffusion partial differential equation (PDE) of Fokker-Planck-Smoluchowski type. The main mathematical result of this paper is the proof of existence of positive solutions to the aforementioned PDE for a class of flows of practical interest, taking into account the flow induced splitting/lengthening of polymers in general, and prions in particular.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 35Q92, 82D60; Secondary: 35A05.


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