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Growth Cone Pathfinding: a competition between deterministic and stochastic events

BioMed Central
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  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Medicine

Abstract ral ss BioMed CentBMC Neuroscience Open AcceResearch article Growth Cone Pathfinding: a competition between deterministic and stochastic events Susan M Maskery1, Helen M Buettner1,2 and Troy Shinbrot*2 Address: 1Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Rutgers University, 98 Brett Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA and 2Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University, 617 Bowser Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA Email: Susan M Maskery - [email protected]; Helen M Buettner - [email protected]; Troy Shinbrot* - [email protected] * Corresponding author Abstract Background: Growth cone migratory patterns show evidence of both deterministic and stochastic search modes. Results: We quantitatively examine how these two different migration modes affect the growth cone's pathfinding response, by simulating growth cone contact with a repulsive cue and measuring the resultant turn angle. We develop a dimensionless number, we call the determinism ratio Ψ, to define the ratio of deterministic to stochastic influences driving the growth cone's migration in response to an external guidance cue. We find that the growth cone can exhibit three distinct types of turning behaviors depending on the magnitude of Ψ. Conclusions: We conclude, within the context of these in silico studies, that only when deterministic and stochastic migration factors are in balance (i.e. Ψ ~ 1) can the growth cone respond constructively to guidance cues. Background Understanding how individual neurons are so reliably guided to their targets during development may be con- sidered a crucial first step to developing successful thera- pies for neuronal injury. Previous work has focused on understanding how the growth cone – a sensory motile structure at the end of a growing neurite – navigates through a complex extracellular environment [for review [1-4]: see also [5-12]]. It has been shown that, at a mini- mum multiple guidance cues whose expressio

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