Incorporating chemical signalling factors into cell-based models of growing epithelial tissues
Smith AM., Baker RE., Kay D., Maini PK.
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. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.