Repulsive expansion dynamics in colony growth and gene expression

Yangxiaolu Cao, John Neu, Andrew E. Blanchard, Ting Lu, Lingchong You

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spatial expansion of a population of cells can arise from growth of microorganisms, plant cells, and mammalian cells. It underlies normal or dysfunctional tissue development, and it can be exploited as the foundation for programming spatial patterns. This expansion is often driven by continuous growth and division of cells within a colony, which in turn pushes the peripheral cells outward. This process generates a repulsion velocity field at each location within the colony. Here we show that this process can be approximated as coarse-grained repulsive-expansion kinetics. This framework enables accurate and efficient simulation of growth and gene expression dynamics in radially symmetric colonies with homogenous z-directional distribution. It is robust even if cells are not spherical and vary in size. The simplicity of the resulting mathematical framework also greatly facilitates generation of mechanistic insights.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1008168
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 18 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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