Simulating Tissue Morphogenesis and Signaling

  • Dagmar Iber
  • Simon Tanaka
  • Patrick Fried
  • Philipp Germann
  • Denis Menshykau
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1189)


During embryonic development tissue morphogenesis and signaling are tightly coupled. It is therefore important to simulate both tissue morphogenesis and signaling simultaneously in in silico models of developmental processes. The resolution of the processes depends on the questions of interest. As part of this chapter we introduce different descriptions of tissue morphogenesi s. In the simplest approximation tissue is a continuous domain and tissue expansion is described according to a predefined function of time (and possibly space). In a slightly more advanced version the expansion speed and direction of the tissue may depend on a signaling variable that evolves on the domain. Both versions will be referred to as “prescribed growth.” Alternatively tissue can be regarded as incompressible fluid and can be described with Navier-Stokes equations. Local cell expansion, proliferation, and death are then incorporated by a source term. In other applications the cell boundaries may be important and cell-based models must be introduced. Finally, cells may move within the tissue, a process best described by agent-based models.

Key words

Tissue dynamics Signaling networks In silico organogenesis 



The authors thank Erkan Ünal, Javier Lopez-Rios, and Dario Speziale from the Zeller lab for the embryo picture in Fig. 1. The authors acknowledge funding from the SNF Sinergia grant “Developmental engineering of endochondral ossification from mesenchymal stem cells,” a SystemsX RTD on Forebrain Development, a SystemsX iPhD grant, and an ETH Zurich postdoctoral fellowship to D.M.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dagmar Iber
    • 1
  • Simon Tanaka
    • 1
  • Patrick Fried
    • 1
  • Philipp Germann
    • 1
  • Denis Menshykau
    • 1
  1. 1.Department for Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE)ETH ZurichBaselSwitzerland

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