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Simulating the Mammalian Blastocyst -Molecular and Mechanical Interactions Pattern the Embryo

Summary: Simulating the Mammalian Blastocyst - Molecular and
Mechanical Interactions Pattern the Embryo
Pawel Krupinski1
, Vijay Chickarmane2
, Carsten Peterson1,3
1 Computational Biology & Biological Physics, Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden, 2 Division of Biology, California Institute
of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States of America, 3 Lund Strategic Research Center for Stem Cell Biology and Cell Therapy, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Mammalian embryogenesis is a dynamic process involving gene expression and mechanical forces between proliferating
cells. The exact nature of these interactions, which determine the lineage patterning of the trophectoderm and endoderm
tissues occurring in a highly regulated manner at precise periods during the embryonic development, is an area of debate.
We have developed a computational modeling framework for studying this process, by which the combined effects of
mechanical and genetic interactions are analyzed within the context of proliferating cells. At a purely mechanical level, we
demonstrate that the perpendicular alignment of the animal-vegetal (a-v) and embryonic-abembryonic (eb-ab) axes is a
result of minimizing the total elastic conformational energy of the entire collection of cells, which are constrained by the
zona pellucida. The coupling of gene expression with the mechanics of cell movement is important for formation of both
the trophectoderm and the endoderm. In studying the formation of the trophectoderm, we contrast and compare
quantitatively two hypotheses: (1) The position determines gene expression, and (2) the gene expression determines the
position. Our model, which couples gene expression with mechanics, suggests that differential adhesion between different


Source: Adolphs, Ralph - Psychology and Neuroscience, California Institute of Technology
Peterson, Carsten - Department of Theoretical Physics, Lunds Universitet


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Biotechnology; Physics