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Interface Focus. 2012 Aug 6;2(4):457-64. doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2012.0001. Epub 2012 Mar 28.

Patterns of periodic holes created by increased cell motility.

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  • 1Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department , University of California , Los Angeles, CA , USA.


The reaction and diffusion of morphogens is a mechanism widely used to explain many spatial patterns in physics, chemistry and developmental biology. However, because experimental control is limited in most biological systems, it is often unclear what mechanisms account for the biological patterns that arise. Here, we study a biological model of cultured vascular mesenchymal cells (VMCs), which normally self-organize into aggregates that form into labyrinthine configurations. We use an experimental control and a mathematical model that includes reacting and diffusing morphogens and a third variable reflecting local cell density. With direct measurements showing that cell motility was increased ninefold and threefold by inhibiting either Rho kinase or non-muscle myosin-II, respectively, our experimental results and mathematical modelling demonstrate that increased motility alters the multicellular pattern of the VMC cultures, from labyrinthine to a pattern of periodic holes. These results suggest implications for the tissue engineering of functional replacements for trabecular or spongy tissue such as endocardium and bone.


Turing instability; adult stem cells; cell motility; pattern formation; self-organization

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