Using mathematical and computational modelling to study the formation of the primitive streak

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Cell and Developmental Biology


Research theme: Experimental and personalised medicine

Humans can generate monozygotic (identical) twins and it is believed that an embryo can split right up until the time of primitive streak formation, 14 days after fertilization. The primitive streak is the first structure of cells which defines left-right symmetry, and little is known about the mechanism by which the formation of a second streak is prevented in most embryos.

Informed by on-going studies on human genetics in populations with a very high rate of twinning, and alongside recent results of embryological manipulations and molecular genetics, this project aims to use mathematical modelling in order to propose a mechanism preventing the formation of multiple primitive streaks. This method will allow the probing of the dynamics of this mechanism, and thereby inform further experiments. Later in the project, additional methods of modelling can be applied to study the formation of the primitive streak at different scales, for example using logic-based models of molecular interactions and agent models of cell movements.


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