University College London
Modelling of neural tube patterning
During embryo development, cellular tissues made of homogeneus identical cells are able to differentiate autonomously giving place to more specific cell types. As a result, an accurate spatial distribution of cell types arise despite the highly non-linear and noisy nature of the system at different scales, from a tissular scale to a molecular scale.
At a large scale, cells interact between them creating a tissue. These interactions are characterised by individual behaviour of the cell such as cell division, apoptosis or interkinetic nuclear movement. Additionally, each individual cell will react to gradients of morphogens (externally secreted signals), that will give each cell positional information in the tissue, and a continuous morphogen gradient along the tissue interacts with the genetic expression of each cell giving place to discrete sets of well and sharp patterns of gene expression. At a cellular level, this regulation process occurs by the genetic interaction between different proteins of the system, so-called genetic regulation networks. Finally, at a molecular level, the regulation and expression of each protein involves different reactions that provide variate genetic dynamical response.
One example of developmental tissue is the neural tube, which gives place to the different neurons forming the central nervous system of vertebrates. In this talk we will review the challenges that involve understanding the patterning of the neural tube at different scales and the tools used to solve them. These tools include the use of vertex models in order to model the tissue, the dynamical analysis of the ODEs describing the interaction between a morphogen and a genetic regulatory network, and the role of noise in the genetic expression.