Cadherin-Dependent Cell Morphology in an Epithelium: Constructing a Quantitative Dynamical Model

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America
PLoS Computational Biology (Impact Factor: 4.83). 07/2011; 7(7):e1002115. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002115
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Author Summary
Tissues are intricate, heterogeneous systems, consisting of individual cells whose shapes and relative positions are of great importance to the tissue's function, as well as to its formation during morphogenesis. To make progress in our understanding of the formation of organs, their malfunction, and their therapeutic replacement in regenerative medicine, it is crucial to elucidate the connection between shape and function. We have developed a quantitative mechanical model of an epithelial tissue, the retina of Drosophila, and compare the modeling results with experimental data. The model successfully predicts shape changes induced by different expression levels of cell-cell adhesion molecules. Furthermore, the model gives new insight into the changes a tissue undergoes during morphogenesis. Comparing simulations and experiments, we are able to accept or reject different hypotheses about morphogenetic dynamics. In this way, we can identify the time course of adhesion molecule synthesis and of cell-cell contact, as well as gain new insight into the regulation of adhesion strength. Given the prominent role of adhesion in wound healing, cancer research, and many other fields, our fundamental work introduces a novel modeling tool of universal applicability and importance.

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