Cell Division Program, recently released.
This is the first animated computer simulation of cell proliferation in a living tissue. The program takes into account the long-neglected, although, well known fact that a living tissue represents an integral structure composed of interconnected cells and having a tissue-specific architectonics. In the program, the tissue is represented as a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice that can be curved and folded. Cell contacts within the lattice are permanent and are not broken by cell division. The program operates with two basic mechanisms: a) the division wave and b) the cell death (apoptosis) serving as an initiation point for cell division.
The program models cell proliferation, cell movement and cell growth in the crypt of intestinal epithelium. It can demonstrate the cell proliferation in a steady state, when cells are dividing, but the size of the crypt remains unchanged. It shows how the cells move along the crypt axis as a result of division waves propagating within the cell layer. In this process, the lattice undergoes peculiar transformations, rotating the direction of spiral rows of cells forming the crypt cylinder and changing the cell pattern but not the diameter of the cylinder.
The program allows modeling of other tissues with different structures. The rates of cell division and growth can be varied and the two processes can be uncoupled; this allows one to emulate certain cell patterns and shapes found in real tissues. Some structures will display growth and, in fact, will "develop" themselves, increasing their complexity. The model suggests a biological role of cell death (apoptosis). It also suggests proliferation patterns of stem cells that so far have escaped the attention of cell biologists.
Team at Cell Division Program