In the early kidney development, a simple epithelial tube called ureteric bud is derived from the intermediate mesoderm and undergoes a complex process of growth and terminal bifid branching. The branching of the ureteric bud is achieved by different cellular behaviors including cell proliferation and chemotaxis. In this paper, we examine how the branching morphology depends on different physical or chemical factors by constructing a cell-based model to describe the simple tube branching in the early kidney development. We conclude that a proper balance between growth speed of epithelial sheet due to cell proliferation and cell mobility due to chemotaxis is necessary to realize the development of normal Y-shaped pattern. When cell proliferation is fast compared to chemotaxis, kinked pattern is formed, and when cell proliferation is slow, bloated pattern is formed. These are consistent with experimental observations in different morphological anomalies of mutants. We show that the different branching patterns are accurately predicted by growth-chemotaxis ratio. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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