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Numerical Methods for Two-Dimensional Stem Cell Tissue Growth


Growth of developing and regenerative biological tissues of different cell types is usually driven by stem cells and their local environment. Here, we present a computational framework for continuum tissue growth models consisting of stem cells, cell lineages, and diffusive molecules that regulate proliferation and differentiation through feedback. To deal with the moving boundaries of the models in both open geometries and closed geometries (through polar coordinates) in two dimensions, we transform the dynamic domains and governing equations to fixed domains, followed by solving for the transformation functions to track the interface explicitly. Clustering grid points in local regions for better efficiency and accuracy can be achieved by appropriate choices of the transformation. The equations resulting from the incompressibility of the tissue is approximated by high-order finite difference schemes and is solved using the multigrid algorithms. The numerical tests demonstrate an overall spatiotemporal second-order accuracy of the methods and their capability in capturing large deformations of the tissue boundaries. The methods are applied to two biological systems: stratified epithelia for studying the effects of two different types of stem cell niches and the scaling of a morphogen gradient with the size of the Drosophila imaginal wing disc during growth. Direct simulations of both systems suggest that that the computational framework is robust and accurate, and it can incorporate various biological processes critical to stem cell dynamics and tissue growth.

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