489 research outputs found

    Cell adhesion and cortex contractility determine cell patterning in the Drosophila retina

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    Hayashi and Carthew (Nature 431 [2004], 647) have shown that the packing of cone cells in the Drosophila retina resembles soap bubble packing, and that changing E- and N-cadherin expression can change this packing, as well as cell shape. The analogy with bubbles suggests that cell packing is driven by surface minimization. We find that this assumption is insufficient to model the experimentally observed shapes and packing of the cells based on their cadherin expression. We then consider a model in which adhesion leads to a surface increase, balanced by cell cortex contraction. Using the experimentally observed distributions of E- and N-cadherin, we simulate the packing and cell shapes in the wildtype eye. Furthermore, by changing only the corresponding parameters, this model can describe the mutants with different numbers of cells, or changes in cadherin expression.Comment: revised manuscript; 8 pages, 6 figures; supplementary information not include

    Theoretical and experimental approaches to understand morphogen gradients

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    Morphogen gradients, which specify different fates for cells in a direct concentration-dependent manner, are a highly influential framework in which pattern formation processes in developmental biology can be characterized. A common analysis approach is combining experimental and theoretical strategies, thereby fostering relevant data on the dynamics and transduction of gradients. The mechanisms of morphogen transport and conversion from graded information to binary responses are some of the topics on which these combined strategies have shed light. Herein, we review these data, emphasizing, on the one hand, how theoretical approaches have been helpful and, on the other hand, how these have been combined with experimental strategies. In addition, we discuss those cases in which gradient formation and gradient interpretation at the molecular and/or cellular level may influence each other within a mutual feedback loop. To understand this interplay and the features it yields, it becomes essential to take system-level approaches that combine experimental and theoretical strategies

    Evidence for an Epigenetic Mechanism by which Hsp90 Acts as a Capacitor for Morphological Evolution

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    Morphological alterations have been shown to occur in Drosophila melanogaster when function of Hsp90 (heat shock 0-kDa protein 1α, encoded by Hsp83) is compromised during development1. Genetic selection maintains the altered phenotypes in subsequent generations1. Recent experiments have shown, however, that phenotypic variation still occurs in nearly isogenic recombinant inbred strains of Arabidopsis thaliana2. Using a sensitized isogenic D. melanogaster strain, iso-KrIf-1, we confirm this finding and present evidence supporting an epigenetic mechanism for Hsp90’s capacitor function, whereby reduced activity of Hsp90 induces a heritably altered chromatin state. The altered chromatin state is evidenced by ectopic expression of the morphogen wingless in eye imaginal discs and a corresponding abnormal eye phenotype, both of which are epigenetically heritable in subsequent generations, even when function of Hsp90 is restored. Mutations in nine different genes of the trithorax group that encode chromatin-remodeling proteins also induce the abnormal phenotype. These findings suggest that Hsp90 acts as a capacitor for morphological evolution through epigenetic and genetic mechanisms

    A mechanism for morphogen-controlled domain growth

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    Many developmental systems are organised via the action of graded distributions of morphogens. In the Drosophila wing disc, for example, recent experimental evidence has shown that graded expression of the morphogen Dpp controls cell proliferation and hence disc growth. Our goal is to explore a simple model for regulation of wing growth via the Dpp gradient: we use a system of reaction-diffusion equations to model the dynamics of Dpp and its receptor Tkv, with advection arising as a result of the flow generated by cell proliferation. We analyse the model both numerically and analytically, showing that uniform domain growth across the disc produces an exponentially growing wing disc

    Placental syncytiotrophoblast constitutes a major barrier to vertical transmission of Listeria monocytogenes.

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    Listeria monocytogenes is an important cause of maternal-fetal infections and serves as a model organism to study these important but poorly understood events. L. monocytogenes can infect non-phagocytic cells by two means: direct invasion and cell-to-cell spread. The relative contribution of each method to placental infection is controversial, as is the anatomical site of invasion. Here, we report for the first time the use of first trimester placental organ cultures to quantitatively analyze L. monocytogenes infection of the human placenta. Contrary to previous reports, we found that the syncytiotrophoblast, which constitutes most of the placental surface and is bathed in maternal blood, was highly resistant to L. monocytogenes infection by either internalin-mediated invasion or cell-to-cell spread. Instead, extravillous cytotrophoblasts-which anchor the placenta in the decidua (uterine lining) and abundantly express E-cadherin-served as the primary portal of entry for L. monocytogenes from both extracellular and intracellular compartments. Subsequent bacterial dissemination to the villous stroma, where fetal capillaries are found, was hampered by further cellular and histological barriers. Our study suggests the placenta has evolved multiple mechanisms to resist pathogen infection, especially from maternal blood. These findings provide a novel explanation why almost all placental pathogens have intracellular life cycles: they may need maternal cells to reach the decidua and infect the placenta

    Reversing Blood Flows Act through klf2a to Ensure Normal Valvulogenesis in the Developing Heart

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    Heart valve anomalies are some of the most common congenital heart defects, yet neither the genetic nor the epigenetic forces guiding heart valve development are well understood. When functioning normally, mature heart valves prevent intracardiac retrograde blood flow; before valves develop, there is considerable regurgitation, resulting in reversing (or oscillatory) flows between the atrium and ventricle. As reversing flows are particularly strong stimuli to endothelial cells in culture, an attractive hypothesis is that heart valves form as a developmental response to retrograde blood flows through the maturing heart. Here, we exploit the relationship between oscillatory flow and heart rate to manipulate the amount of retrograde flow in the atrioventricular (AV) canal before and during valvulogenesis, and find that this leads to arrested valve growth. Using this manipulation, we determined that klf2a is normally expressed in the valve precursors in response to reversing flows, and is dramatically reduced by treatments that decrease such flows. Experimentally knocking down the expression of this shear-responsive gene with morpholine antisense oligonucleotides (MOs) results in dysfunctional valves. Thus, klf2a expression appears to be necessary for normal valve formation. This, together with its dependence on intracardiac hemodynamic forces, makes klf2a expression an early and reliable indicator of proper valve development. Together, these results demonstrate a critical role for reversing flows during valvulogenesis and show how relatively subtle perturbations of normal hemodynamic patterns can lead to both major alterations in gene expression and severe valve dysgenesis

    Mechanical Stress Inference for Two Dimensional Cell Arrays

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    Many morphogenetic processes involve mechanical rearrangement of epithelial tissues that is driven by precisely regulated cytoskeletal forces and cell adhesion. The mechanical state of the cell and intercellular adhesion are not only the targets of regulation, but are themselves likely signals that coordinate developmental process. Yet, because it is difficult to directly measure mechanical stress {\it in vivo} on sub-cellular scale, little is understood about the role of mechanics of development. Here we present an alternative approach which takes advantage of the recent progress in live imaging of morphogenetic processes and uses computational analysis of high resolution images of epithelial tissues to infer relative magnitude of forces acting within and between cells. We model intracellular stress in terms of bulk pressure and interfacial tension, allowing these parameters to vary from cell to cell and from interface to interface. Assuming that epithelial cell layers are close to mechanical equilibrium, we use the observed geometry of the two dimensional cell array to infer interfacial tensions and intracellular pressures. Here we present the mathematical formulation of the proposed Mechanical Inverse method and apply it to the analysis of epithelial cell layers observed at the onset of ventral furrow formation in the {\it Drosophila} embryo and in the process of hair-cell determination in the avian cochlea. The analysis reveals mechanical anisotropy in the former process and mechanical heterogeneity, correlated with cell differentiation, in the latter process. The method opens a way for quantitative and detailed experimental tests of models of cell and tissue mechanics

    Cell lineage transport: a mechanism for molecular gradient formation

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    Gradient formation is a fundamental patterning mechanism during embryo development, commonly related to secreted proteins that move along an existing field of cells. Here, we mathematically address the feasibility of gradients of mRNAs and non-secreted proteins. We show that these gradients can arise in growing tissues whereby cells dilute and transport their molecular content as they divide and grow, a mechanism we termed ‘cell lineage transport.' We provide an experimental test by unveiling a distal-to-proximal gradient of Hoxd13 in the vertebrate developing limb bud driven by cell lineage transport, corroborating our model. Our study indicates that gradients of non-secreted molecules exhibit a power-law profile and can arise for a wide range of biologically relevant parameter values. Dilution and nonlinear growth confer robustness to the spatial gradient under changes in the cell cycle period, but at the expense of sensitivity in the timing of gradient formation. We expect that gradient formation driven by cell lineage transport will provide future insights into understanding the coordination between growth and patterning during embryonic development

    Active Tension Network model suggests an exotic mechanical state realized in epithelial tissues.

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    Mechanical interactions play a crucial role in epithelial morphogenesis, yet understanding the complex mechanisms through which stress and deformation affect cell behavior remains an open problem. Here we formulate and analyze the Active Tension Network (ATN) model, which assumes that the mechanical balance of cells within a tissue is dominated by cortical tension and introduces tension-dependent active remodeling of the cortex. We find that ATNs exhibit unusual mechanical properties. Specifically, an ATN behaves as a fluid at short times, but at long times supports external tension like a solid. Furthermore, an ATN has an extensively degenerate equilibrium mechanical state associated with a discrete conformal - "isogonal" - deformation of cells. The ATN model predicts a constraint on equilibrium cell geometries, which we demonstrate to approximately hold in certain epithelial tissues. We further show that isogonal modes are observed in the fruit y embryo, accounting for the striking variability of apical areas of ventral cells and helping understand the early phase of gastrulation. Living matter realizes new and exotic mechanical states, the study of which helps to understand biological phenomena

    Cadherin-Dependent Cell Morphology in an Epithelium: Constructing a Quantitative Dynamical Model

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    Cells in the Drosophila retina have well-defined morphologies that are attained during tissue morphogenesis. We present a computer simulation of the epithelial tissue in which the global interfacial energy between cells is minimized. Experimental data for both normal cells and mutant cells either lacking or misexpressing the adhesion protein N-cadherin can be explained by a simple model incorporating salient features of morphogenesis that include the timing of N-cadherin expression in cells and its temporal relationship to the remodeling of cell-cell contacts. The simulations reproduce the geometries of wild-type and mutant cells, distinguish features of cadherin dynamics, and emphasize the importance of adhesion protein biogenesis and its timing with respect to cell remodeling. The simulations also indicate that N-cadherin protein is recycled from inactive interfaces to active interfaces, thereby modulating adhesion strengths between cells