Stem cell microenvironment is involved in regulating stem cell fate regarding self-renewal, quiescence, and differentiation. Mathematical models may be useful in understanding the dynamics of the regulation and geometrical organization of such microenvironments.
Stem cells in the tissues of both animals and plants are often located and controlled by special microenvironments known as niche. Studies in different stem cells niches in model systems (Drosophila ovary and testes, bone marrow, hair follicles, subventricular zone of the brain, and villi of the intestinal tract in mammals, apical meristems and radicals in vascular plants) have revealed adhesive interactions, changes in the cell cycle, cell signaling and common spatial organizations (confinement) operating to control the behavior of stem cells. Thus it seems that these niches are an ancient evolutionary module with characteristics conserved in different places, tissues and organisms regarding their role and especially their organization.
In this work we conceived the activity and fate of stem cells as a function of local interaction with their environment, and by generalizing and organizing this molecular interactions in short-range and long-range interactions, we build a ‘cellular automaton’ model that represents the organizational geometry of the stem cell niches in several organisms along the multicellular linage. The model takes into account all the different types of interactions that exist in the niche, and through alterations demonstrates the robustness of the system and thus the main molecular and genetic factors involved in it.