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Cell migration and proliferation on homogeneous and non-homogeneous domains : modelling on the scale of individuals and populations

By Brodie Alexander James Lawson


Cell migration is a behaviour critical to many key biological effects, including wound healing, cancerous cell invasion and morphogenesis, the development of an organism from an embryo.\ud \ud However, given that each of these situations is distinctly different and cells are extremely complicated biological objects, interest lies in more basic experiments which seek to remove conflating factors and present a less complex environment within which cell migration can be experimentally examined. These include in vitro studies like the scratch assay or circle migration assay, and ex vivo studies like the colonisation of the hindgut by neural crest cells. The reduced complexity of these experiments also makes them much more enticing as problems to mathematically model, like done here.\ud \ud The primary goal of the mathematical models used in this thesis is to shed light on which cellular behaviours work to generate the travelling waves of invasion observed in these experiments, and to explore how variations in these behaviours can potentially predict differences in this invasive pattern which are experimentally observed when cell types or chemical environment are changed. Relevant literature has already identified the difficulty of distinguishing between these behaviours when using traditional mathematical biology techniques operating on a macroscopic scale, and so here a sophisticated individual-cell-level model, an extension of the Cellular Potts Model (CPM), is been constructed and used to model a scratch assay experiment.\ud \ud This model includes a novel mechanism for dealing with cell proliferations that allowed for the differing properties of quiescent and proliferative cells to be implemented into their behaviour. This model is considered both for its predictive power and used to make comparisons with the travelling waves which result in more traditional macroscopic simulations.\ud \ud These comparisons demonstrate a surprising amount of agreement between the two modelling frameworks, and suggest further novel modifications to the CPM that would allow it to better model cell migration. Considerations of the model’s behaviour are used to argue that the dominant effect governing cell migration (random motility or signal-driven taxis) likely depends on the sort of invasion demonstrated by cells, as easily seen by microscopic photography.\ud \ud Additionally, a scratch assay simulated on a non-homogeneous domain consisting of a ’fast’ and ’slow’ region is also used to further differentiate between these different potential cell motility behaviours. A heterogeneous domain is a novel situation which has not been considered mathematically in this context, nor has it been constructed experimentally to the best of the candidate’s knowledge. Thus this problem serves as a thought experiment used to test the conclusions arising from the simulations on homogeneous domains, and to suggest what might be observed should this non-homogeneous assay situation be experimentally realised.\ud \ud Non-intuitive cell invasion patterns are predicted for diffusely-invading cells which respond to a cell-consumed signal or nutrient, contrasted with rather expected behaviour in the case of random-motility-driven invasion. The potential experimental observation of these behaviours is demonstrated by the individual-cell-level model used in this thesis, which does agree with the PDE model in predicting these unexpected invasion patterns. In the interest of examining such a case of a non-homogeneous domain experimentally, some brief suggestion is made as to how this could be achieved

Topics: adhesion, cell tracking, cellular automata, cellular Potts model, chemokinesis, chemotaxis,, contact inhibition of locomotion, contact inhibition of migration, contact inhibition, of proliferation, CPM, diffusion, finite volume method, flux limiting, GGH model, Glazier-Graner-Hogeweg model, heterogeneous domain, invasion, lattice anisotropy, Metropolis algorithm, mitosis, non-linear, proliferation, random motility, scrape assay,, scratch assay, travelling waves, volume-filling, wound healing assay
Publisher: Queensland University of Technology
Year: 2013
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