Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In this paper we present a comprehensive computational framework within which the effects of chemical signalling factors on growing epithelial tissues can be studied. The method incorporates a vertex-based cell model, in conjunction with a solver for the governing chemical equations. The vertex model provides a natural mesh for the finite element method (FEM), with node movements determined by force laws. The arbitrary Lagrangian-Eulerian formulation is adopted to account for domain movement between iterations. The effects of cell proliferation and junctional rearrangements on the mesh are also examined. By implementing refinements of the mesh we show that the finite element (FE) approximation converges towards an accurate numerical solution. The potential utility of the system is demonstrated in the context of Decapentaplegic (Dpp), a morphogen which plays a crucial role in development of the Drosophila imaginal wing disc. Despite the presence of a Dpp gradient, growth is uniform across the wing disc. We make the growth rate of cells dependent on Dpp concentration and show that the number of proliferation events increases in regions of high concentration. This allows hypotheses regarding mechanisms of growth control to be rigorously tested. The method we describe may be adapted to a range of potential application areas, and to other cell-based models with designated node movements, to accurately probe the role of morphogens in epithelial tissues.

Original publication




Journal article


J Math Biol

Publication Date





441 - 463


Animals, Cell Growth Processes, Drosophila, Drosophila Proteins, Epithelium, Finite Element Analysis, Mitosis, Models, Biological, Morphogenesis, Signal Transduction