Self-organizing mechanism for development of space-filling neuronal dendrites

PLoS Comput Biol. 2007 Nov;3(11):e212. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030212.


Neurons develop distinctive dendritic morphologies to receive and process information. Previous experiments showed that competitive dendro-dendritic interactions play critical roles in shaping dendrites of the space-filling type, which uniformly cover their receptive field. We incorporated this finding in constructing a new mathematical model, in which reaction dynamics of two chemicals (activator and suppressor) are coupled to neuronal dendrite growth. Our numerical analysis determined the conditions for dendritic branching and suggested that the self-organizing property of the proposed system can underlie dendritogenesis. Furthermore, we found a clear correlation between dendrite shape and the distribution of the activator, thus providing a morphological criterion to predict the in vivo distribution of the hypothetical molecular complexes responsible for dendrite elongation and branching.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Enlargement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Size
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / physiology*