Somites are condensations of mesodermal cells that form along the two sides of the neural tube during early vertebrate development. They are one of the first instances of a periodic pattern, and give rise to repeated structures such as the vertebrae. A number of theories for the mechanisms underpinning somite formation have been proposed. For example, in the “clock and wavefront” model (Cooke and Zeeman in J. Theor. Biol. 58:455– 476, 1976), a cellular oscillator coupled to a determination wave progressing along the anterior-posterior axis serves to group cells into a presumptive somite. More recently, a chemical signaling model has been developed and analyzed by Maini and coworkers (Collier et al. in J. Theor. Biol. 207:305–316, 2000; Schnell et al. in C. R. Biol. 325:179– 189, 2002; McInerney et al. in Math. Med. Biol. 21:85–113, 2004), with equations for two chemical regulators with entrained dynamics. One of the chemicals is identified as a somitic factor, which is assumed to translate into a pattern of cellular aggregations via its effect on cell–cell adhesion. Here, the authors propose an extension to this model that includes an explicit equation for an adhesive cell population. They represent cell adhesion via an integral over the sensing region of the cell, based on a model developed previousl
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