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Seminar by Prof. Dr. Dagmar Iber

ETH Zürich (Switzerland)

26 Jun 2014 11:00
26 Jun 2014 12:00
Rotunda room, JSC building (15.4)

From Networks to Function - Computational Models of Organogenesis

One of the major challenges in biology concerns the integration of data across length and time scales into a consistent framework: how do macroscopic properties and functionalities arise from the molecular regulatory networks – and how do they evolve? Morphogenesis provides an excellent model system to study how simple molecular networks robustly control complex pattern forming processes on the macroscopic scale in spite of molecular noise, and how important functional variants can evolve from small genetic changes. Recent advancements in 3D imaging technologies, computer algorithms, and computer power now allow us to develop and analyse increasingly realistic models of biological control [1]. I will present our recent work where we use data-based modeling to arrive at predictive models that allow us to address the mechanism of branching in lungs and kidneys [2-4], the mechanism by which an asymmetry emerges in our hand (thumb to pinky) [5,6], as well as a mechanism by which proportions are maintained in differently sized embryos [7]. Furthermore, I will address the question of why ovarian follicle size scales with species size, while the size of the enclosed oocyte remains about constant [8]. Finally, I will discuss how we apply our approach to cortical development, where we seek to understand how neural stem cell fate is determined and how the cortical layers are defined (

1. Iber D and Zeller R, Making sense - data-based simulations of vertebrate limb development. Curr Opin Genet Dev (2012) 22, 570-577.
2. Menshykau D et al Branch Mode Selection during early Lung Development PLoS Computational Biology (2012) 8, e1002377.
3 Menshykau D and Iber D, Kidney branching morphogenesis under the control of a ligand-receptor based Turing mechanism, Phys. Biol. (2013) 10, 046003; selected as Physical Biology's Highlights of 2013.
4. Menshykau D et al An Interplay of Geometry and Signaling Enables Robust Lung Branching Morphogenesis. Development, in revision.
5. Germann P and Iber D, A data-based computational model for the epithelial-mesenchymal SHH/BMP/GREM1/FGF feedback loop in limb bud development. Development, in revision.
6. Lopez‐Rios J, Duchesne A et al Attenuated sensing of SHH by Ptch1 underlies adaptive evolution of bovine limbs. Nature (Article), in press.
7. Fried P, Iber D, Dynamic Scaling of Morphogen Gradients on Growing Domains. Nature Communications, in revision.
8. Bächler M, Menshykau D et al Species-specific differences in follicular antral sizes result from diffusion-based limitations on the thickness of the granulosa cell layer. Molecular Human Reproduction (2014) 20, 208-221 AWARDED SGRM (Swiss Society for Reproductive Medicine) RESEARCH PRIZE 2014.