Cell migration is crucial for many physiological and pathological processes. During embryogenesis, neural crest cells undergo coordinated epithelial to mesenchymal transformations and migrate towards various forming organs. Here we develop a computational model to understand how mutual interactions between migrating neural crest cells (NCs) and the surrounding population of placode cells (PCs) generate coordinated migration. According to experimental findings, we implement a minimal set of hypotheses, based on a coupling between chemotactic movement of NCs in response to a placode-secreted chemoattractant (Sdf1) and repulsion induced from contact inhibition of locomotion (CIL), triggered by heterotypic NC–PC contacts. This basic set of assumptions is able to semi-quantitatively recapitulate experimental observations of the characteristic multispecies phenomenon of “chase-and-run”, where the colony of NCs chases an evasive PC aggregate. The model further reproduces a number of in vitro manipulations, including full or partial disruption of NC chemotactic migration and selected mechanisms coordinating the CIL phenomenon. Finally, we provide various predictions based on altering other key components of the model mechanisms.
- Agent-based model
- Contact inhibition of locomotion
- Neural crest
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Modelling and Simulation
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Applied Mathematics