Numerical simulation of the viral entry into a cell driven by receptor diffusion

T. Wiegold*, S. Klinge, R. P. Gilbert, G. A. Holzapfel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study focuses on the receptor driven endocytosis typical of viral entry into a cell. A locally increased density of receptors at the time of contact between the cell and the virus is necessary in this case. The virus is considered as a substrate with fixed receptors on its surface, whereas the receptors of the host cell are free to move over its membrane, allowing a local change in their concentration. In the contact zone the membrane inflects and forms an envelope around the virus. The created vesicle imports its cargo into the cell. This paper assumes the diffusion equation accompanied by boundary conditions requiring the conservation of binders to describe the process. Moreover, it introduces a condition defining the energy balance at the front of the adhesion zone. The latter yields the upper limit for the size of virus which can be engulfed by the cell membrane. The described moving boundary problem in terms of the binder density and the velocity of the adhesion front is well posed and numerically solved by using the finite difference method. The illustrative examples have been chosen to show the influence of the process parameters on the initiation and the duration of the process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-243
Number of pages20
JournalComputers and Mathematics with Applications
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2021


  • Cell mechanics
  • Finite difference method
  • Moving boundary problem
  • Receptor diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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