Transport limited effects in a model of dendritic branching
Graham, B. P., and Van Ooyen, A. (2004). J. Theor. Biol. 230: 421-432. [Full text: PDF]
A variety of stochastic models of dendritic growth in developing neurons have been formulated previously. Such models indicate that the probability of a new branch forming in a growing tree may be modulated by factors such as the number of terminals in the tree and their centrifugal order. However, these models cannot identify any underlying biophysical mechanisms that may cause such dependencies. Here we explore a new model in which branching depends on the concentration of a branch-determining substance in each terminal segment. The substance is produced in the cell body and is transported by active transport and diffusion to the terminals. The model reveals that transport-limited effects may give rise to the same modulation of branching as indicated by the stochastic models. Different limitations arise if transport is dominated by active transport or by diffusion.