Combining Turing and 3D vertex models reproduces autonomous multicellular morphogenesis with undulation, tubulation, and branching

  • Okuda, Satoru
    RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology・PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency
  • Miura, Takashi
    Faculty of Medical Sciences, Kyushu University
  • Inoue, Yasuhiro
    Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University
  • Adachi, Taiji
    Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University
  • Eiraku, Mototsugu
    RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology・Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University


This study demonstrates computational simulations of multicellular deformation coupled with chemical patterning in the three-dimensional (3D) space. To address these aspects, we proposes a novel mathematical model, where a reaction–diffusion system is discretely expressed at a single cell level and combined with a 3D vertex model. To investigate complex phenomena emerging from the coupling of patterning and deformation, as an example, we employed an activator–inhibitor system and converted the activator concentration of individual cells into their growth rate. Despite the simplicity of the model, by growing a monolayer cell vesicle, the coupling system provided rich morphological dynamics such as undulation, tubulation, and branching. Interestingly, the morphological variety depends on the difference in time scales between patterning and deformation, and can be partially understood by the intrinsic hysteresis in the activator-inhibitor system with domain growth. Importantly, the model can be applied to 3D multicellular dynamics that couple the reaction–diffusion patterning with various cell behaviors, such as deformation, rearrangement, division, apoptosis, differentiation, and proliferation. Thus, the results demonstrate the significant advantage of the proposed model as well as the biophysical importance of exploring spatiotemporal dynamics of the coupling phenomena of patterning and deformation in 3D space.


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