Science and Mathematics

Deconstructing How Cellular Interactions Ensure Robust Morphogenesis

February 25, 2020 at 3:30pm5:00pm

Physics Building, 202 / 204

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The Department of Physics welcomes Dr. Hannah Yevick from MIT for their weekly colloquium. This speaker is a candidate for a faculty position in the Department of Physics, part of the cluster hiring initiative in the BioInspired Institute.

Abstract: Correct tissue shape is essential for its proper function. It is therefore crucial that a developing tissue robustly assembles into its target structure. To change shape, cells within a tissue must exert forces and move collectively. While many genetic and molecular strategies that lead to robust development have been established, it is unknown how the necessary collective deforma- tions are ensured mechanically. I will describe how bringing together quantitative imaging, physi- cal modeling and concepts from network science have uncovered collective interactions that govern tissue patterning and shape. First, I will present the physical mechanism by which out-of-plane curvature triggers tissue-scale organization and a novel transition from collective to individual cell migration. Next, I will describe how tissue folding is robustly established in an embryo. Developing tissues undergo highly regulated folding to build their final form. I identified a network of force generating molecular motors which form mechanical linkages spanning cells and connecting with neighbors into a tissue scale structure. Redundancy in this supracellular network encodes the tissue’s intrinsic robustness to perturbation during folding. Moving forward, understanding robustness in complex biological systems has the potential to advance our under- standing of active materials that self-organize and change shape. More broadly, deciphering the physical basis of robustness will deliver ways to control and reprogram tissues when both treating disease and when striving to reproducibly engineer materials with complex 3D shape.


This event was first published on January 27, 2020 and last updated on February 3, 2020.

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