Multiscale modeling of diffusion in the early Drosophila embryo

Christine Sample, Stanislav Y. Shvartsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We developed a multiscale approach for the computationally efficient modeling of morphogen gradients in the syncytial Drosophila embryo, a single cell with multiple dividing nuclei. By using a homogenization technique, we derived a coarse-grained model with parameters that are explicitly related to the geometry of the syncytium and kinetics of nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. One of our main results is an accurate analytical approximation for the effective diffusivity of a morphogen molecule as a function of the nuclear density. We used this expression to explore the dynamics of the Bicoid morphogen gradient, a signal that patterns the anterior-posterior axis of the embryo. A similar approach can be used to analyze the dynamics of all three maternal morphogen gradients in Drosophila.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10092-10096
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number22
StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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