This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. Primary support for the subproject and the subproject's principal investigator may have been provided by other sources, including other NIH sources. The Total Cost listed for the subproject likely represents the estimated amount of Center infrastructure utilized by the subproject, not direct funding provided by the NCRR grant to the subproject or subproject staff. Cell migration is a superb example of biological complexity, as it intertwines biochemical signaling networks with biophysical locomotory processes. While the myriad of molecular components and interactions continue to become identified, the challenge looms to integrate them all into the operation of cell migration as a dynamical system. We are using the Virtual Cell (VC) environment to enable simulations of the locomotory process. The VC is already able to simulate reaction-diffusion equations on the 3-D domains (cellular interior) of complex geometries. Thus, numerical simulation and visualization of a sub-model are being developed that incorporate spatio-temporal dynamics of essential regulatory molecules in the cytoplasm. This includes reaction-diffusion equations describing chemical kinetics, diffusion and transport of actin monomers, actin binding proteins and ions. As the next step, we are enabling VC to solve the reaction-advection-diffusion equations of cytoskeletal mechanics and adhesive system on the 3-D domains and their boundaries, respectively. In addition to incorporating the appropriate numerics infrastructure to deal with the new mathematical formalisms, a key challenge will be to develop graphical representations of the biophysics that can be deployed by the user to fully specify models within a mechanics-enabled problem domain. Such representations would be structured in terms of easily manipulatable sets of components consisting of the structures, molecules, and relevant interactions. Finally, we will expand the VC software in order to dynamically change the cellular geometry to account for the protrusion/retraction movements of the cellular surface. We will adapt finite element techniques to problems of cytoskeletal dynamics with changing geometries.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Biotechnology Resource Grants (P41)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-CB-L (40))
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University of Connecticut
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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