This paper is devoted to computer modelling of the development and regeneration of multicellular biological structures. Some species (e.g. planaria and salamanders) are able to regenerate parts of their body after amputation damage, but the global rules governing cooperative cell behaviour during morphogenesis are not known. Here, we consider a simplified model organism, which consists of tissues formed around special cells that can be interpreted as stem cells. We assume that stem cells communicate with each other by a set of signals, and that the values of these signals depend on the distance between cells. Thus the signal distribution characterizes location of stem cells. If the signal distribution is changed, then the difference between the initial and the current signal distribution affects the behaviour of stem cells—e.g. as a result of an amputation of a part of tissue the signal distribution changes which stimulates stem cells to migrate to new locations, appropriate for regeneration of the proper pattern. Moreover, as stem cells divide and form tissues around them, they control the form and the size of regenerating tissues. This two-level organization of the model organism, with global regulation of stem cells and local regulation of tissues, allows its reproducible development and regeneration.
The authors acknowledge the National Institute of Health, NIH R03 HD81401-01, 1R01HD081326-01; The G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation; NSF CDI EF-1124651; W.M. Keck foundation; Agence National de la Recherch, ANR-2010-BLAN-0107-01.
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