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The multiple roles of mechanics in embryonic tissue morphogenesis - 16 November 2021

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Speaker: Professor Otger Campàs, Chair of Tissue Dynamics, Physics of Life Excellence Cluster, TU Dresden

The multiple roles of mechanics in embryonic tissue morphogenesis

Host: Anna Bajur

Abstract: During embryonic development, cells self-organize to build functional structures, like tissues and organs, and progressively shape the organism. While many key molecular players that orchestrate embryonic development are known, the physical mechanisms underlying embryonic morphogenesis and the effect of mechanical cues on cell behavior remain largely unknown, mainly because of a lack in methodologies enabling direct in vivo and in situ measurements of forces and mechanical properties within developing 3D tissues and organs. We have developed novel microdroplet-based techniques that overcome these problems and allow direct quantitative measurements of mechanical forces and material properties within 3D multicellular systems, including developing embryonic tissues. Using these techniques and focusing on the elongation of the zebrafish body axis, a hallmark morphogenetic process in vertebrate development, we reveal a new physical mechanism of tissue morphogenesis whereby spatiotemporally controlled fluid-to-solid (phase) transitions in the tissue state, rather than patterned mechanical stresses, guide tissue flows to shape functional embryonic structures. Moreover, beyond the mechanics underlying morphogenetic events, I will also discuss what are the tissue-scale mechanical parameters that cells probe as they transition from mesodermal progenitors to mesodermal cells and build the presomitic mesoderm


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