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Virtual Cell

Hypothesis-driven modeling of cell shape induced cell behavior

Since the invention of the microscope in the 17th century, scientists have been studying the anatomy of healthy and diseased cells and tissues. Cells come in a remarkable variety of shapes and sizes and it has long been recognized that a cell’s shape reflects its function. For example, the long cellular extensions (dendrites) of neural cells facilitate information transmission whereas flat, tiled skin cells collectively act as a barrier function for the human body. However, it is not clear how cell shape determines cell behavior. By building an in silico model of cell signaling we aim to understand how cell shape influences intracellular cell signaling through pure geometric effects, independent of (or in addition to) known mechanotransduction pathways. The model implementations are done in VirtualCell, a computational environment for modeling and simulation of cell biology that combines a biologically oriented user interface with accessible ODE, PDE and stochastic solvers to allow for direct specification and customization of the mathematical methods. To validate the in silico predictions, a close feedback loop is maintained with the experimental work performed at cBITE.

Virtual Cell

In silico predictions of the cdc42-gradient, an important molecule involved in polarization and migration signaling, as a function of time. The initial stimulus is applied in the horizontal direction.

Further reading

Virtual Cell
Resasco et al., Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med, 2012

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  • cBITE-laboratory for Cell Biology-Inspired Tissue Engineering
  • MERLN Institute
Maastricht University
Universiteitssingel 40
6229 ER Maastricht
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