Seminar of Algebra

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Catastrophes in Cell Differentiation

Elena Camacho Aguilar (University of Warwick)
Departamento de Álgebra
Thu, 18 may 2017 12:30
Estudiante de doctorado en Matemáticas Interdisciplinares en la Universidad de Warwick (UK). Interesada en entender procesos biológicos a través de las matemáticas. En particular, mi proyecto se centra en modelar la diferenciación de células madre

Have you ever wondered how from the fertilised egg that divides into two cells and then into four and so on, such a variety of tissues appear? This is what developmental biology studies and, in particular, cell differentiation is the process by which unspecialised cells adopt and maintain a particular pattern of gene activity and thus become a different cell type. It is a key stage of development and its understanding could help, for instance, in regenerative medicine.

In this talk I will explain a new geometric approach to the modelling of these processes by taking advantage of catastrophe theory. It is possible to classify a rich class of dynamical systems and the bifurcations between them using singularity theory, which allows us to deeply understand the system. In particular, I will illustrate this by a model of vulval development in C. elegans. Defining a catastrophe manifold for the model and mapping signals into the parameters, I will show that we can reproduce the topology of vulval development studied.