Neural crest migration with continuous cell states

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Models of cranial neural crest cell migration in cell-induced (or self-generated) gradients have included a division of labour into leader and follower migratory states, which undergo chemotaxis and contact guidance, respectively. Despite validated utility of these models through experimental perturbation of migration in the chick embryo and gene expression analysis showing relevant heterogeneity at the single cell level, an often raised question has been whether the discrete cell states are necessary, or if a continuum of cell behaviours offers a functionally equivalent description. Here we argue that this picture is supported by recent single-cell transcriptome data. Motivated by this, we implement two versions of a continuous-state model: (1) signal choice and (2) signal combination. We find that the cell population migrates further than in the discrete-state model and than in experimental observations. We further show that the signal combination model, but not the signal choice model, can be successfully adjusted to experimentally plausible regimes by reducing the chemoattractant consumption parameter. Thus we show an equivalently plausible, experimentally motivated, model of neural crest cell migration.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Early online date29 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2019


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