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Bull Math Biol. 2014 Oct;76(10):2426-48. doi: 10.1007/s11538-014-0016-x. Epub 2014 Sep 4.

Actomyosin regulation and symmetry breaking in a model of polarization in the early Caenorhabditis elegans embryo : symmetry breaking in cell polarization.

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Department of Mathematics, The Ohio State University, 231 West 18th Ave, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA,


Polarization, whereby a cell defines a spatial axis by segregating specific determinants to distinct regions, is an essential and highly conserved biological process. The process of polarization is initiated by a cue that breaks an initially symmetric distribution of determinants, allowing for a spatially asymmetric redistribution. The nature of this cue is currently not well understood. Utilizing the conservation of polarization process and its determinants, we theoretically investigate the nature of the cue and the regulation of contractility that enables the establishment of polarity in early embryos of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). Our biologically based model, which consists of coupled partial differential equations, suggests that a biochemical but not mechanical cue is sufficient for symmetry breaking, and inhibition of contractile elements by specific determinants is needed for sustained spatial redistribution.

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