PloS one

A mechanical model of cell segregation driven by differential adhesion.

PMID 22952652


From simulations that begin with a random mix of two cell types, we monitor progress towards segregation driven by contact-mediated linkage of model cells, which is equivalent to the cell-cell adhesion of real cells. In comparison with real cell experiments, we show that this mechanical model can account for the observed extent of segregation obtained by differential adhesion in a 2D cell culture assay of cells with differentially expressed cadherin molecules. Calibration of virtual to real time allowed us to estimate a time course for these experiments that was within 50% agreement for the simulations compared to differential adhesion of cells. In contrast, simulations of differential adhesion do not account for the rate of segregation driven by interactions between EphB2 receptor and ephrinB1 expressing cells which occurs an order of magnitude faster. The latter result suggests that mechanisms additional or alternative to differential adhesion contribute to Eph-ephrin mediated cell segregation.