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Research Abstracts Online
January 2010 - March 2011

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University of St. Thomas
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Mathematics

PI: Magdalena Stolarska

Mathematical Modeling of Cell Motility and Cell-Substrate Interaction

Cell motility in multicellular organisms plays an essential role in various biological processes involved in health and development, and for this reason understanding the various process involved in cell motility is vital. The goal of this ongoing project is to better understand how the mechanics of cell-substrate interaction affects cell motion. The researcher has begun implementing a simplified model into Comsol Multiphysics. Specifically, the full three-dimensional model is reduced to two dimensions in which the cell and the substrate on which it is moving are two-dimensional regions. The cell and substrate interact through simple regions of attachment that change according to a prescribed algorithm. Upcoming work includes applying the two-dimensional Comsol code to better understand the movement of the amoeboid cell type Dictyostelium discoidium. Experimentally, these cells have been shown to have an oscillatory mode of motion during which extension of the leading edge is followed by contraction of the rear. Experimentalists speculate that this oscillatory motion occurs due to a stress feedback from the cell to its internal machinery, and the Comsol simulations will be able to better explain that nature of this movement. An additional goal is to possibly expand the two-dimensional Comsol model to three dimensions.