Biologische Hochschulschriften (Goethe-Universität)
- Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (3)
Coordinated optimization of visual cortical maps (I) symmetry-based analysis
Justin C. Crowley
- In the primary visual cortex of primates and carnivores, functional architecture can be characterized by maps of various stimulus features such as orientation preference (OP), ocular dominance (OD), and spatial frequency. It is a long-standing question in theoretical neuroscience whether the observed maps should be interpreted as optima of a specific energy functional that summarizes the design principles of cortical functional architecture. A rigorous evaluation of this optimization hypothesis is particularly demanded by recent evidence that the functional architecture of orientation columns precisely follows species invariant quantitative laws. Because it would be desirable to infer the form of such an optimization principle from the biological data, the optimization approach to explain cortical functional architecture raises the following questions: i) What are the genuine ground states of candidate energy functionals and how can they be calculated with precision and rigor? ii) How do differences in candidate optimization principles impact on the predicted map structure and conversely what can be learned about a hypothetical underlying optimization principle from observations on map structure? iii) Is there a way to analyze the coordinated organization of cortical maps predicted by optimization principles in general? To answer these questions we developed a general dynamical systems approach to the combined optimization of visual cortical maps of OP and another scalar feature such as OD or spatial frequency preference. From basic symmetry assumptions we obtain a comprehensive phenomenological classification of possible inter-map coupling energies and examine representative examples. We show that each individual coupling energy leads to a different class of OP solutions with different correlations among the maps such that inferences about the optimization principle from map layout appear viable. We systematically assess whether quantitative laws resembling experimental observations can result from the coordinated optimization of orientation columns with other feature maps.
Spatio-temporal dynamics of primary lymphoid follicles during organogenesis and lymphneogenesis
- Primary lymphoid follicles are structures which are important for adaptive immune responses in mammals. Within the follicles follicular dendritic cells (FDC) are maintained by constant stimuli provided by B cells. It is thought that the FDC are important for immune response. It is of interest to know how lymphoid follicles are regulated in order to understand their role in various autoimmune diseases in which these follicles are created ectopically. With the help of a tissue simulation relying on an agent-based cell model on top of a regular triangulation various scenarios suggested by the available experimental data have been investigated. In order to cope with the complexity in the simulation of immune tissue the regular triangulation has been implemented for the use on parallel computers. The algorithms for kinetic and dynamic regular triangulation have been created newly. Also the cell model underlying the simulation has been designed newly in many aspects. The simulations allowed to identify common factors that regulate the formation of lymphoid follicles normally during organogenesis in development and lymphneogenesis in the course of diseases. The generation of FDC from local stromal populations under the influence of B cell aggregates is shown to be possible with the given experimental parameters. The sequence of the organogenesis and lymphneogenesis can be described with regard to the morphology of the B and T zone. Tests for the stability of the primary lymphoid follicle system constraints the regulation of the B cell efflux. The required lymphatic vessels around the lymphoid follicle are shown to be negatively correlated with the FDC network. Moreover it is shown that the adjacent T zone consisting of its own stromal population and T cells has similar regulation principles. This easily explains the intermediate ring of B cells found around the T zone during development and certain signaling molecule deficiencies. A major result of this thesis is that the generation of FDC needs negative regulation while a number of other possible mechanisms is incompatible with the available experimental data. Moreover the observed microanatomy was brought into a functional relationship with data on the cellular level finally culminating in the proposal of new experiments that shed light on the dynamics of the primary lymphoid follicle. One conclusion is that the FDC directly or indirectly influence the angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis processes in secondary lymphoid tissues. The work presented here may help to guide experiments with the help of computers in order to reduce the amount of experiments and design them in a way to maximize the amount of information about biological systems.
Cell migration and organization
- Information sent to and received by cells is essential for a homeostatic development of tissues and organs. These same signals are responsible for the good functioning of lymphatic organs and therefore govern the immune response. Dysfunctioning of the signaling networks is related to pathological situations, among which one can find cancer and auto-immune diseases. Intercellular communication involves the synthesis and the adjustment of signals by the secreting/emitting cell in order to reach the needed threshold. Diffusion of the signal to the target cell in addition to its interpretation lead to functional changes like cell migration and aggregation. Individual cells such as bacteria find food or increase their virulence through taxis (directional stimulus) and/or kinesis (speed stimulus). Immune cells appear to use the same processes to find bacteria and cellular debris, as well as to perform the cellular dance observed in germinal centers. This behavior is a result of an up or down regulation of specific signals that suggest to B and T-cells the paths to follow. Furthermore, cell segregation in the white pulp of the spleen, was also shown to be a result of a tight adjustment of T-cell kinesis. Restriction to cellular tracks and other experimentally provided measurements does not ensure a full comprehension of the observed cellular behavior. Thus, the study of patterns opens new gates to our understanding of the immune system. With the help of the agent-based modeling technique, cellular migration and aggregation are investigated in response to various cell-cell interactions. This work aims to explore different mechanisms that lead to cellular migration and aggregation, by defining the emergent properties of interest and that will help distinguish between interactions, starting by a simple look at the emergent patterns, followed by an analysis of their size, their degree of aggregation and the effective communication distances. Finally, the results obtained from the in silico experiments provided a guideline to differentiate between many cell-cell interactions under specific circumstances. Chemotaxis and phototaxis with and without diffusive cellular motion were shown to be distinguishable through an analysis of the emerging aggregation profiles.