The cell membrane deforms during endocytosis to surround extracellular material and draw it into the cell. Results of experiments on endocytosis in yeast show general agreement that 1) actin polymerizes into a network of filaments exerting active forces on the membrane to deform it, and 2) the large-scale membrane deformation is tubular in shape. In contrast, there are three competing proposals for precisely how the actin filament network organizes itself to drive the deformation. We use variational approaches and numerical simulations to address this competition by analyzing a meso-scale model of actin-mediated endocytosis in yeast. The meso-scale model breaks up the invagination process into three stages: 1) initiation, where clathrin interacts with the membrane via adaptor proteins; 2) elongation, where the membrane is then further deformed by polymerizing actin filaments; and 3) pinch-off. Our results suggest that the pinch-off mechanism may be assisted by a pearling-like instability. We rule out two of the three competing proposals for the organization of the actin filament network during the elongation stage. These two proposals could be important in the pinch-off stage, however, where additional actin polymerization helps break off the vesicle. Implications and comparisons with earlier modeling of endocytosis in yeast are discussed.
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