Numerical simulation of morphogenetic movements in Drosophila embryo

Abstract : The present thesis is developed through four principal chapters. The first one provides a brief but rather exhaustive description of the context, with a global overview on the complex process of the embryogenesis in Drosophila Melanogaster. We amply focus on the three morphogenetic movements that will be numerically simulated, with particular emphasis on both the mechanical and the biological aspects that constitute the main peculiarity of each event. Also we propose a short review on the related previous works. The second chapter supplies the abstract tools for the analysis of the whole problem and points out the hypotheses that, for sake of simplicity, have been made. The gradient decomposition method is presented together with some interesting interpretations that better clarify the approach and put forward novel issues that have to be considered. By the Principle of the Virtual Power, we are able to write the mechanical equilibrium of the system which consists of the forces internal to the embryo domain and of the boundary conditions, such as the yolk pressure and contact with the vitelline membrane, that are essential for consistent results. A special concern is attributed to the choice of the constitutive law of the mesoderm that, from a biological point of view, may appear too simplistic. Here a Saint- Venant material is used in contrast with the Hyperelastic models found in literature; therefore a comparison between the two is proposed together with the advantages and the limitations of our study. Finally, we provide some simple examples that validate our model and support the exploited method. The third chapter can be divided into two parts. In the first one, by the parametrical description of the embryo geometry, we obtain the analytical formulations of the active deformation gradients for each morphogenetic movement according to the elementary forces introduced. Such expressions will be combined with the passive gradients in order to get the final deformation of the tissues. In the second part we interpret the results for each simulation. In particular, we provide a parametrical analysis for the simulation of the ventral furrow invagination, while for the germ band extension a comparison with experimental data is done. Furthermore we have been able to estimate the effects induced by the local deformations within the tissues; specifically, we have evaluated the magnitude of the pressure forces and the shear stress that may develop at long distance in the embryo when the active forces are applied in restraint regions. To conclude, we propose a collateral study on the influence of the global geometry of the embryo on the final results. Given the consistence of the results for the individual simulations, we have decided to test the concurrent simulation of the events, by two or three of them. In the last chapter, we show the results for a first essay for which we use the most intuitive method; it does not require in fact further manipulations of the analytical formulations previously obtained, but we simply couple together the active deformation gradients, following the chronological order of the movements. Although the method works well for the simulation of the two furrows, some drawbacks are detected when we introduce the germ band extension. Therefore we propose a new approach, more rigorous and appropriate, which allows to take into account some aspects so far put aside, but still significant for a realistic and complete reproduction of the different phases of the Drosophila gastrulation.
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Theses
Life Sciences [q-bio]. Ecole Centrale Paris, 2009. English. <NNT : 2009ECAP0025>


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Rachele Allena. Numerical simulation of morphogenetic movements in Drosophila embryo. Life Sciences [q-bio]. Ecole Centrale Paris, 2009. English. <NNT : 2009ECAP0025>. <tel-00429691v2>

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