Collective cell motion in an epithelial sheet can be quantitatively described by a stochastic interacting particle model

PLoS Comput Biol. 2013;9(3):e1002944. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002944. Epub 2013 Mar 7.

Abstract

Modelling the displacement of thousands of cells that move in a collective way is required for the simulation and the theoretical analysis of various biological processes. Here, we tackle this question in the controlled setting where the motion of Madin-Darby Canine Kidney (MDCK) cells in a confluent epithelium is triggered by the unmasking of free surface. We develop a simple model in which cells are described as point particles with a dynamic based on the two premises that, first, cells move in a stochastic manner and, second, tend to adapt their motion to that of their neighbors. Detailed comparison to experimental data show that the model provides a quantitatively accurate description of cell motion in the epithelium bulk at early times. In addition, inclusion of model "leader" cells with modified characteristics, accounts for the digitated shape of the interface which develops over the subsequent hours, providing that leader cells invade free surface more easily than other cells and coordinate their motion with their followers. The previously-described progression of the epithelium border is reproduced by the model and quantitatively explained.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Dogs
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelium / physiology*
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Models, Biological*
  • Stochastic Processes

Grant support

Support to NS was provided through a research grant attributed to B. Audoly from the Human Frontier Science Program. Financial support from the “Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer” is also acknowledged. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.