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Modelling and analysis of planar cell polarity

Schamberg, Sabine; Houston, Paul; Monk, Nick A.M.; Owen, Markus R.


Sabine Schamberg

Professor of Computational and Applied Maths

Nick A.M. Monk


Planar cell polarity (PCP) occurs in the epithelia of many animals and can lead to the alignment of hairs, bristles and feathers; physiologically, it can organise ciliary beating. Here we present two approaches to modelling this phenomenon. The aim is to discover the basic mechanisms that drive PCP, while keeping the models mathematically tractable. We present a feedback and diffusion model, in which adjacent cell sides of neighbouring cells are coupled by a negative feedback loop and diffusion acts within the cell. This approach can give rise to polarity, but also to period two patterns. Polarisation arises via an instability provided a sufficiently strong feedback and sufficiently weak diffusion. Moreover, we discuss a conservative model in which proteins within a cell are redistributed depending on the amount of proteins in the neighbouring cells, coupled with intracellular diffusion. In this case polarity can arise from weakly polarised initial conditions or via a wave provided the diffusion is weak enough. Both models can overcome small anomalies in the initial conditions. Furthermore, the range of the effects of groups of cells with different properties than the surrounding cells depends on the strength of the initial global cue and the intracellular diffusion.


Schamberg, S., Houston, P., Monk, N. A., & Owen, M. R. Modelling and analysis of planar cell polarity. Manuscript submitted for publication

Journal Article Type Article
Deposit Date Nov 19, 2008
Journal Bulletin of Mathematical Biology
Print ISSN 0092-8240
Electronic ISSN 0092-8240
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Publisher URL


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