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Models integrating gene and cell levels that predict pattern formation and morphogenesis of teeth and other complex morphological structures.


In the proposed project I will develop a gene network model and a theoretical framework able to integrate basic cellular behaviors and signaling. With it I plan to make a model able to reproduce the morphology and patterns of gene expression of mammalian teeth. General aspects of tooth evolution and development are quite well understood but due to the complexity of mammalian development and morphology, it is difficult to evaluate how genes produce form. A mathematical model allows to integrate information about gene interactions and cellular responses implicated in tooth development into mechanisms whose validity can be tested by comparing predicted and real morphologies. Furthermore, the model can aid to interpret, predict or analyze the possible causes underlying the phenotypic effects of mutations, experimental manipulations and diseases. In Helsinki, a reciprous interaction with a group of experimental developmental biologist will allow me to learn to integrate experimental data into the model while they will profit from a model that may aid to interpret their results and design their experiments and in general in to understand the global coordination of teeth development. We suspect that teeth is a paradigmatic example of developmental systems in which pattern formation and morphogenesis are closely integrated. Our model and the new kind of gene expression and morphology data that Jernvall is developing will provide a useful set of data and methods to evaluate the causal interrelationship between formal and pattern of gene expression. Teeth may be an example development system in which form and pattern are causally interdependent.

Funding Scheme

RGI - Research grants (individual fellowships)


9,Viikinkaari 9 Biocentre 1A
00014 Helsinki