University of Cambridge > > DAMTP BioLunch > Navigation on the microscale - how cells can sense the direction of external gradients

Navigation on the microscale - how cells can sense the direction of external gradients

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In many biological processes, in particular embryonic and brain development, cells need to follow chemical gradients to arrive at a precise location. To this end, they need to be able to determine the direction and position of sources releasing diffusing molecular guidance cues from information gathered by receptor clusters located on the cell membrane. I will talk about what we learned regarding the limits of direction sensing in different environments from developing an analytical model, using an asymptotic approach in two and three dimensions, and an efficient numerical simulation procedure to calculate the particle fluxes to receptors. I will discuss how we quantify the uncertainty associated with location triangulation and that the number of receptors decreases the uncertainty super-exponentially, enabling position reconstruction over large distances. Finally, I will show simulations of cells navigating in chemicals gradient based on these findings.

This talk is part of the DAMTP BioLunch series.

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