Patterning of vascular mesenchymal cells in three dimensions

Tal Danino, University of California, San Diego

Cells organize in complex three-dimensional patterns by interacting with proteins along with the surrounding extracellular matrix. This organization provides the mechanical and chemical cues that ultimately influence a cell's differentiation and function. Here, we computationally investigate the pattern formation process of vascular mesenchymal cells arising from the interaction between cells, Bone Morphogenic Protein-2 (BMP-2), and its inhibitor, Matrix Gla Protein (MGP). Using a first-principles approach, we derive a reaction-diffusion model based on the biochemical interactions of BMP-2, MGP and cells. We demonstrate the emergence of three types of patterns: spheres, tubes, and sheets, and show that the patterns can be tuned by modifying parameters in the model such as the degradation rates of proteins and chemotactic coefficient of cells. We also show that the boundaries dividing the regions of the three patterns can be predicted by a nonlinear stability analysis. Our model may be useful for engineering of desired three-dimensional tissue structures.

Abstract Author(s): Tal Danino, Dmitri Volfson, Jeff Hasty