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Morphomechanics — Result In Brief

Project ID: 293479
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Spain

The complexities of organ development

Tissue and organ building has to be 100 % coherent. Recent research has discovered that the process depends on a combination of genetic, biochemical and mechanical input.
The complexities of organ development
Understanding how cells integrate biochemical and mechanical information is one of the Holy Grails of biology. The EU-funded MORPHOMECHANICS (Emergence of tissue mechanical properties from molecular and cellular activity during morphogenesis) project has investigated how the forces of cytoskeletal activity, cell-cell adhesion and mechanics bring about cell shape changes in a 3D architecture.

The MORPHOMECHANICS team used a combination of live imaging, quantitative image analysis, mechanical and genetic perturbation and modelling to study dorsal closure in the fruit fly, Drosophila. Interestingly, this is a reference model relevant to other processes such as wound healing, neural tube closure and fusion in the palate.

Researchers built up a model where cytoskeletal oscillations arise due to coupling of myosin-driven active forces, actomyosin turnover and cell deformation, and are modulated by neighbour-coupling. Research results reveal a key role for alpha-catenin, a linking protein in the cytoskeleton. Adhesion dynamics also play a major role in maintaining the integrity of the tissue as tension develops.

MORPHOMECHANICS also investigated the measurement of tissue deformation during morphogenesis. The scientists developed a framework that maps the deformation between consecutive frames showing the rate of change or accumulated deformation. This approach promises to reveal unexpected patterns of organisation at the sub- and supra-cellular levels.

Dissemination of this project that lies at the interphase between developmental biology and tissue mechanics has been presented at different international conferences. Papers have appeared in peer-reviewed journals with some pending publication.

Related information


Organ development, morphogenesis, cytoskeleton, model, deformation, alpha-catenin
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