Presenter: Aurélien Roux, Ph.D.
Professor, Biochemistry Department, University of Geneva
Title: In vitro reconstitution of tissue morphogenesis
Abstract: Morphogenesis is the process by which cellular tissues acquire their shape during embryonic development. Forces that shape tissues are intrinsic to them, and arise from collective coordination of cells. However, the processes by which these forces arise and are organised remain partly obscure, mostly because it is technically challenging to measure them in the embryo and dissociate the contributions of each mechanism that generates them. In my lab, we undertook an in vitro reconstitution approach, trying to reproduce single mechanisms known to participate to morphogenesis. This allows us to test quantitatively theories of morphogenesis. In particular, by growing epithelial cells in elastic hollow spheres, we can show that epithelium buckling, a process known to be important for tissue folding in the embryo, spontaneously arises from cell proliferation under confinement. On another hand, myoblasts confined onto micropatterns spontaneously order into a nematic phase with integer topological defects. We show that these defects concentrate stresses, forcing the tissue to form cellular vortices protruding from the defects. By comparing our results to real embryos, I will discuss how the mechanisms we reconstituted could participate to morphogenesis.
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