A hybrid computational model to predict chemotactic guidance of growth cones
The overall strategy used by growing axons to find their correct paths during the nervous system development is not yet completely understood. Indeed, some emergent and counterintuitive phenomena were recently described during axon pathfinding in presence of chemical gradients. Here, a novel computational model is presented together with its ability to reproduce both regular and counterintuitive axonal behaviours. In this model, the key role of intracellular calcium was phenomenologically modelled through a non standard Gierer-Meinhardt system, as a crucial factor influencing the growth cone behaviour both in regular and complex conditions. This model was able to explicitly reproduce neuritic paths accounting for the complex interplay between extracellular and intracellular environments, through the sensing capability of the growth cone. The reliability of this approach was proven by using quantitative metrics, numerically supporting the similarity between in silico and biological results in regular conditions (control and attraction). Finally, the model was able to qualitatively predict emergent and counterintuitive phenomena resulting from complex boundary conditions.