CRG: Physics also matters for positional control during development

CRG: Physics also matters for positional control during development

News from CRG

Cells move and migrate to shape an organism during the early stages of development. This choreographed movement in which the mass of cells will be oriented giving rise to an organism has been deeply studied from a genetic point of view. Now, a team of scientists at the Centre for Genomic Regulation led by Jérôme Solon, describe the physical mechanisms driving collective cell movements in a so far unexplored process during development.

Scientists focused on a particular process of the fruit fly development: the head involution. During this process, the epidermis spreads anteriorly to envelope the head tissues and fully cover the embryo. This results in an even positioning of epidermal segments along the embryo that will give rise to the different organs of the fly.

“The tissue rearrangement occurring in this developmental process is similar than in wound healing. It requires collective movement of cells and we described that epidermal movement is in part driven by a contractile actomyosin cable at the front of the moving tissue. So a contractile ring forms, and generates tissue movements in the same way as when we propel a soap from our hand just by squeezing it with our fingers. The interesting observation, here, is that these contractile rings are present regularly all along the embryo like many squeezing hands, generating the circumferential tension which leads into spreading and positioning of cells along the organism,” explain Natalia Czerniak and Kai Dierkes, co-first authors of this paper and researchers at the Solon laboratoy in the CRG.

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Natalia Dorota Czerniak, Kai Dierkes, Arturo D’Angelo, Julien Colombelli, and Jérôme Solon. “Patterned contractile forces promote epidermal spreading and regulate segment positioning during Drosophila head involution” Current Biology. 2016.