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LCN2 Seminar: Mathematical Modeling of Embryonic Development: The Intra- and Extracellular Networks that Coordinate Collective Cell Behavior

Friday 25 September 2020
Kaltura Live Room

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39th LCN2 seminar

Speaker: Roeland Merks

Title: Mathematical Modeling of Embryonic Development: The Intra- and Extracellular Networks that Coordinate Collective Cell Behavior


During embryonic development, the behavior of individual cells must be coordinated to create the large scale patterns and tissue movements that shape the whole embryo. Apart from chemical signals exchanged between cells, a prominent role is played by the extracellular matrix (ECM); these are networks of fibrous or jelly materials (e.g. collagens, fibronectin) that form the micro-environment of many cells in tissues. To get a better grip on the role of the extracellular matrix in determining the behavior of cells, we are developing mathematical and computational approaches to analyse the interactions off the mechanics of cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM) [2, 3, 4, 5]. The cell models are usually based on the Cellular Potts model, whereas the ECM is modeled based on a variety of approaches, including the finite-element model and molecular dynamics. The intracellular mechanics is often simplified as an isotropic contractile material, but I will also show examples of how the cytoskeleton, a network of intracellular structural and contractile proteins, regulates the interactions with the ECM [4,5]. I will how these mathematical approaches help to elucidate the regulation of cell migration, collective cell behavior during angiogenesis [2] and other mechanisms, including immune cell migration and the evolution of multicellularity [1].

[1]  Colizzi, E.S., & Vroomans, R.M.A., & Merks, R.M.H. (preprint) Evolution of multicellularity by collective integration of spatial information. bioRxiv 2020.02.20.957647. https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.09805

[2]  Van Oers, R. F. M., & Rens, E. G., &LaValley, D. J., & Reinhart-King, C. A., & Merks, R. M. H. (2014). Mechanical Cell-Matrix Feedback Explains Pairwise and Collective Endothelial Cell Behavior In Vitro. PLOS Computational Biology, 10(8), e1003774. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003774

[3]  Rens, E. G., & Merks, R. M. H. (preprint) Cell Shape and Durotaxis Follow from Mechanical Cell- Substrate Reciprocity and Focal Adhesion Dynamics: A Unifying Mathematical Model. arXiv:1906.08962. https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.08962

[4]  Schakenraad, K., & Ernst, J., & Pomp, W., & Danen, E. H. J., & Merks, R. M. H., & Schmidt, T., & Giomi, L. (preprint) Mechanical interplay between cell shape and actin cytoskeleton organization. arXiv:1905.09805. https://arxiv.org/abs/1905.09805

[5]  Schakenraad,K.,&Ravazzano,L.&Sarkar,N.&Wondergem,J.A.J.,&Merks,R.M.H.,&Giomi,L.(preprint) Topotaxis of active Brownian particles. arXiv:1908.06078. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.02.20.957647

About the LCN2 seminar

This talk is part of a series of seminars organized within an ongoing scientific initiative called the "Leiden Complex Networks Network" (LCN2), which brings together scientists with a common interest in both theoretical models and empirical analyses of complex networks and random graphs. The LCN2 community shares the approach of using networks for describing real-world complex systems and aims at developing related analytical and numerical methods, while also being open to other research approaches for studying complex systems. The talks are designed for a broad audience, allowing for constructive exchanges of ideas between scientists from different disciplines. During and after the talk, some drinks and simple snacks are provided.

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