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Pierobon, Paolo; Mobilia, Mauro; Kouyos, Roger and Frey, Erwin (September 2006): Bottleneck-induced transitions in a minimal model for intracellular transport. In: Physical Review E, Vol. 74, No. 3: 031906-1 [PDF, 510kB]


We consider the influence of disorder on the nonequilibrium steady state of a minimal model for intracellular transport. In this model particles move unidirectionally according to the totally asymmetric exclusion process (TASEP) and are coupled to a bulk reservoir by Langmuir kinetics. Our discussion focuses on localized point defects acting as a bottleneck for the particle transport. Combining analytic methods and numerical simulations, we identify a rich phase behavior as a function of the defect strength. Our analytical approach relies on an effective mean-field theory obtained by splitting the lattice into two subsystems, which are effectively connected exploiting the local current conservation. Introducing the key concept of a carrying capacity, the maximal current that can flow through the bulk of the system (including the defect), we discriminate between the cases where the defect is irrelevant and those where it acts as a bottleneck and induces various novel phases (called bottleneck phases). Contrary to the simple TASEP in the presence of inhomogeneities, many scenarios emerge and translate into rich underlying phase diagrams, the topological properties of which are discussed.

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