Computational analysis of three-dimensional epithelial morphogenesis using vertex models

Xinxin Du, Miriam Osterfield, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The folding of epithelial sheets, accompanied by cell shape changes and rearrangements, gives rise to three-dimensional structures during development. Recently, some aspects of epithelial morphogenesis have been modeled using vertex models, in which each cell is approximated by a polygon; however, these models have been largely confined to two dimensions. Here, we describe an adaptation of these models in which the classical two-dimensional vertex model is embedded in three dimensions. This modification allows for the construction of complex threedimensional shapes from simple sheets of cells. We describe algorithmic, computational, and biophysical aspects of our model, with the view that it may be useful for formulating and testing hypotheses regarding the mechanical forces underlying a wide range of morphogenetic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number066007
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Computational modeling
  • Morphogenesis
  • Vertex models


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