Center for Computational and Theoretical Biology

Preimplantation development


Preimplantation development is key to mammalian pregnancy success. About 70% of pregnancies fail during the first few days before the embryo is ready for implantation. During the preimplantation phase, the fertilized oocyte divides several times to separate into three distinct populations of cells that will give rise to the embryo proper, the placenta and the yolk sac cells.

In this project, we investigate the complex and highly dynamic process of cell decision and cell patterning in the preimplantation mouse embryo. Based on the experimental data from our collaborators Dr. S. Muñoz-Descalzo (ULPGC, Gran Canaria, Spain) and Dr. C. Schröter (MPI Molecular Physiology, Dortmund), we use a combination of three-dimensional image analysis followed by statistical data analysis to generate hypotheses concerning the distribution and patterning of different cell types. A mixture of mathematical modelling and computer-aided simulation will then allow us to gain further insight into the dynamics of embryonic development.


Exemplary two dimensional simulation of the cell fate decision of two distinct cell types. In parallel, the simulation also includes cell growth and cell division. The animation highlights the three main steps in the computational effort. Starting with cells as simple points, the cell regions are then approximated, followed by a chemical model to describe the cell decision.