Math Biology Seminar: James J. Feng

  • Date: 10/10/2018
  • Time: 15:00
James J. Feng, UBC

University of British Columbia


Spontaneous collective migration of neural crest cells


During early vertebrate embryogenesis, neural crest cells (NCCs) migrate in clusters from the neural tube to various target locations over long distances. Their collective migration is tightly regulated by environmental signals and intercellular interactions. Curiously, NCC clusters are capable of spontaneously developing a persistent migration down migratory corridors in the absence of chemoattractants. To understand this phenomenon, we built a vertex-dynamics model that predicts the key modes of cell interactions—contact inhibition of locomotion (CIL) and co-attraction (COA)—through the modulation of Rho GTPase biochemistry. Using such a signaling-based model, as opposed to implementing hard-coded simulation rules, we find that CIL and COA conspire to suppress Rac1 activity, leading to the persistence of polarization (POP) of clustering cells and thus the spontaneous directional migration in the absence of chemical gradients.

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Location: ESB 4127