Differences in boundary behavior in the 3D vertex and Voronoi models

Elizabeth Lawson Keister, Tao Zhang, Fatemeh Nazari, Francois Fagotto, M. Lisa Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An important open question in the modeling of biological tissues is how to identify the right scale for coarse-graining, or equivalently, the right number of degrees of freedom. For confluent biological tissues, both vertex and Voronoi models, which differ only in their representation of the degrees of freedom, have effectively been used to predict behavior, including fluid-solid transitions and cell tissue compartmentalization, which are important for biological function. However, recent work in 2D has hinted that there may be differences between the two models in systems with heterotypic interfaces between two tissue types, and there is a burgeoning interest in 3D tissue models. Therefore, we compare the geometric structure and dynamic sorting behavior in mixtures of two cell types in both 3D vertex and Voronoi models. We find that while the cell shape indices exhibit similar trends in both models, the registration between cell centers and cell orientation at the boundary are significantly different between the two models. We demonstrate that these macroscopic differences are caused by changes to the cusp-like restoring forces introduced by the different representations of the degrees of freedom at the boundary, and that the Voronoi model is more strongly constrained by forces that are an artifact of the way the degrees of freedom are represented. This suggests that vertex models may be more appropriate for 3D simulations of tissues with heterotypic contacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1011724
JournalPLoS computational biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


Dive into the research topics of 'Differences in boundary behavior in the 3D vertex and Voronoi models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this