Simulation of Cell Patterning Triggered by Cell Death and Differential Adhesion in Drosophila Wing

Tatsuzo Nagai, Hisao Honda, Masahiko Takemura

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The Drosophila wing exhibits a well-ordered cell pattern, especially along the posterior margin, where hair cells are arranged in a zigzag pattern in the lateral view. Based on an experimental result observed during metamorphosis of Drosophila, we considered that a pattern of initial cells autonomously develops to the zigzag pattern through cell differentiation, intercellular communication, and cell death (apoptosis) and performed computer simulations of a cell-based model of vertex dynamics for tissues. The model describes the epithelial tissue as a monolayer cell sheet of polyhedral cells. Their vertices move according to equations of motion, minimizing the sum total of the interfacial and elastic energies of cells. The interfacial energy densities between cells are introduced consistently with an ideal zigzag cell pattern, extracted from the experimental result. The apoptosis of cells is modeled by gradually reducing their equilibrium volume to zero and by assuming that the hair cells prohibit neighboring cells from undergoing apoptosis. Based on experimental observations, we also assumed wing elongation along the proximal-distal axis. Starting with an initial cell pattern similar to the micrograph experimentally obtained just before apoptosis, we carried out the simulations according to the model mentioned above and successfully reproduced the ideal zigzag cell pattern. This elucidates a physical mechanism of patterning triggered by cell apoptosis theoretically and exemplifies, to our knowledge, a new framework to study apoptosis-induced patterning. We conclude that the zigzag cell pattern is formed by an autonomous communicative process among the participant cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)958-967
Number of pages10
JournalBiophysical journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 27 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science KAKENHI grants 25440117 (to H.H.) and 17K07410 (to H.H.).

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