- 4607B South Hall
TITLE : Stochastic self-organization of branched organs: on the growth of blood vessels, glands, and kidneys
Abstract : Morphogenesis, the formation of biological shape and pattern during embryonic development, is a topic of intensive experimental investigation, so the participating cell types and molecular signals continue to be characterized in great detail. Yet this data only partly tells biologists how molecules and cells interact dynamically to construct a biological tissue. Mathematical and computational modeling are a great help in analyzing the mechanisms of biological morphogenesis.
I will discuss some recent developments on a lattice-based, stochastic model for the formation of blood vessel networks (Merks et al. PLoS Comput Biol 2008), which is based on the cellular Potts model. In this model, we have identified a stochastic mechanism for branching growth that, in a modified form, may play a key role in the formation of branched organs of epithelial origin, e.g. mammary glands and kidneys. I will discuss this model in detail and conclude by suggesting some interesting continuum and stochastic mathematical problems that our simulations suggest.
Time permitting, I will also introduce some recent results on the coordination of collective cell behavior via the extracellular matrix (ECM), the jelly and hard materials that cells secrete.