Development of epithelial tissues: How are cleavage planes chosen?

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© 2018 Xin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The cross-section of a cell in a monolayer epithelial tissue can be modeled mathematically as a k-sided polygon. Empirically studied distributions of the proportions of k-sided cells in epithelia show remarkable similarities in a wide range of evolutionarily distant organisms. A variety of mathematical models have been proposed for explaining this phenomenon. The highly parsimonious simulation model of (Patel et al., PLoS Comput. Biol., 2009) that takes into account only the number of sides of a given cell and cell division already achieves a remarkably good fit with empirical distributions from Drosophila, Hydra, Xenopus, Cucumber, and Anagallis. Within the same modeling framework as in that paper, we introduce additional options for the choice of the endpoints of the cleavage plane that appear to be biologically more realistic. By taking the same data sets as our benchmarks, we found that combinations of some of our new options consistently gave better fits with each of these data sets than previously studied ones. Both our algorithm and simulation data are made available as research tools for future investigations.