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A Dynamic Physical Model of Cell Migration, Differentiation and Apoptosis in Caenorhabditis elegans

Beyer A, Eberhard R, Piterman N, Hengartner M, Hajnal A, and Fisher J

Abstract

The germ line of the nematode C. elegans provides a paradigm to study essential developmental concepts like stem cell differentiation and apoptosis. Here, we have created a computational model encompassing these developmental landmarks and the resulting movement of germ cells along the gonadal tube. We have used a technique based on Molecular Dynamics (MD) to model the physical movement of cells solely based on the force that arises from dividing cells. This novel way of using MD to drive the model enables calibration of simulation and experimental time. Based on this calibration, the analysis of our model shows that it is in accordance with experimental observations. In addition, the model provides insights into kinetics of molecular pathways within individual cells as well as into physical aspects like the cell density along the germ line and in local neighbour-hoods of individual germ cells. In the future, the presented model can be used to test hypotheses about diverse aspects of development like stem cell division or programmed cell death. An iterative process of evolving this model and experi-mental testing in the model system C. elegans will provide new insights into key developmental aspects.

Details

Publication typeInbook
PublisherSpringer
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