Title

Growth Cone Mechanics

Presenter Information

William North

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Growth Cone, Mechanics, Discovery.

Abstract

A nerve growth cone is a mechanical structure that responds to chemical signals in order to guide axon growth during nervous system development. We developed a computational model to explore the underlying mechanics of a nerve growth cone inside a fetus, and to specifically address the question of how the mechanical components of the growth cone work together to allow the cone to steer in response to external chemical signals. By developing a deeper understanding of the bio-physics of growth cones, we hope to contribute to a broader understanding of how the nervous system develops. Based on experimental observations of the movement and components of a growth cone, we wrote a computational program in Matlab using differential equations to explain the mechanics of how a growth cone moves and turns. We hypothesize that the growth cone operates through a mechanical clutch mechanism in which a group of filaments called f-actin act as the engine-clutch system and a group of filaments called microtubules provide the steering. Theoretical predictions of our model could be tested by future experiments, in order to test the validity of our hypothesis. This project has helped further research on growth cone dynamics and functions and has given me a deeper understanding of doing research with the use of computational analysis.

Poster Number

54

Faculty Mentor(s)

Erin Craig

Department/Program

Physics

Additional Mentoring Department

Physics

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May 21st, 8:30 AM May 21st, 11:00 AM

Growth Cone Mechanics

SURC Ballroom B/C/D

A nerve growth cone is a mechanical structure that responds to chemical signals in order to guide axon growth during nervous system development. We developed a computational model to explore the underlying mechanics of a nerve growth cone inside a fetus, and to specifically address the question of how the mechanical components of the growth cone work together to allow the cone to steer in response to external chemical signals. By developing a deeper understanding of the bio-physics of growth cones, we hope to contribute to a broader understanding of how the nervous system develops. Based on experimental observations of the movement and components of a growth cone, we wrote a computational program in Matlab using differential equations to explain the mechanics of how a growth cone moves and turns. We hypothesize that the growth cone operates through a mechanical clutch mechanism in which a group of filaments called f-actin act as the engine-clutch system and a group of filaments called microtubules provide the steering. Theoretical predictions of our model could be tested by future experiments, in order to test the validity of our hypothesis. This project has helped further research on growth cone dynamics and functions and has given me a deeper understanding of doing research with the use of computational analysis.