Muddana, Hari Shankar (2006-12). Integrated biomechanical model of cells embedded in extracellular matrix. Master's Thesis. Thesis uri icon


  • Nature encourages diversity in life forms (morphologies). The study of morphogenesis
    deals with understanding those processes that arise during the embryonic development
    of an organism. These processes control the organized spatial distribution of cells,
    which in turn gives rise to the characteristic form for the organism. Morphogenesis
    is a multi-scale modeling problem that can be studied at the molecular, cellular, and
    tissue levels.
    Here, we study the problem of morphogenesis at the cellular level by introducing
    an integrated biomechanical model of cells embedded in the extracellular matrix.
    The fundamental aspects of mechanobiology essential for studying morphogenesis at
    the cellular level are the cytoskeleton, extracellular matrix (ECM), and cell adhesion.
    Cells are modeled using tensegrity architecture. Our simulations demonstrate cellular
    events, such as differentiation, migration, and division using an extended tensegrity
    architecture that supports dynamic polymerization of the micro-filaments of the cell.
    Thus, our simulations add further support to the cellular tensegrity model. Viscoelastic
    behavior of extracellular matrix is modeled by extending one-dimensional
    mechanical models (by Maxwell and by Voigt) to three dimensions using finite element
    methods. The cell adhesion is modeled as a general Velcro-type model. We
    integrated the mechanics and dynamics of cell, ECM, and cell adhesion with a geometric
    model to create an integrated biomechanical model. In addition, the thesis discusses various computational issues, including generating the finite element mesh,
    mesh refinement, re-meshing, and solution mapping.
    As is known from a molecular level perspective, the genetic regulatory network of
    the organism controls this spatial distribution of cells along with some environmental
    factors modulating the process. The integrated biomechanical model presented here,
    besides generating interesting morphologies, can serve as a mesoscopic-scale platform
    upon which future work can correlate with the underlying genetic network.

publication date

  • December 2006