CDB Seminar Series - Professor Ben Simons - 21 June 2018

Start: Jun 21, 2018 01:00 PM
End: Jun 21, 2018 02:00 PM

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Title: "A unifying theory of branching morphogenesis"
Speaker: Professor Ben Simons - Department of Physics, University of Cambridge (research profile)
Venue: Gavin de Beer LT, Anatomy Building (map)
Host: Dr Chris Barnes (email)

Abstract: Branching morphogenesis has been a subject of abiding interest. Although much is known about the underlying signaling pathways, it remains unclear how the macroscopic features of branched organs, including their size, network topology and spatial patterning, are encoded. Here we show that, in the mouse mammary gland, kidney, pancreas and human prostate, these features can be explained quantitatively within a single unifying framework of branching and annihilating random walks. Based on large-scale organ reconstructions, genetic lineage tracing and proliferation kinetics, we show that morphogenesis follows from the collective proliferative activity of lineage-restricted equipotent progenitor pools localized at ductal tips that drive a process of ductal elongation and stochastic tip bifurcation.
By correlating cell cycle exit with proximity to maturing ducts, this dynamics results in the specification of a complex network of defined density and statistical organization. These results show that branched epithelial structures in mammalian tissues develop as a self-organized process, reliant upon a strikingly simple, but generic, set of local rules, without recourse to a rigid and deterministic sequence of genetically programmed events.