In vitro Morphogenesis of cellular tornadoes

TYPEStatistical & Bio Seminar
Speaker:Prof. Aurélien Roux
Affiliation:Université de Genève
Location:Lidow Nathan Rosen (300)

Tissues acquire function and shape via differentiation and morphogenesis. Both processes are driven by coordinating cellular forces and shapes at the tissue scale, but general principles governing this interplay remain to be discovered. Here, we report that self-organization of myoblasts around integer topological defects, namely spirals and asters, suffices to establish complex multicellular architectures. In particular, these arrangements can trigger localized cell differentiation or, alternatively, when differentiation is inhibited, they can drive the growth of swirling protrusions. Both localized differentiation and growth of cellular vortices require specific stress patterns. By analyzing the experimental velocity and orientational fields through active gel theory, we show that integer topological defects can generate force gradients that concentrate compressive stresses. We reveal these gradients by assessing spatial changes in nuclear volume and deformations of elastic pillars. Altogether, we propose integer topological defects as mechanical organizing centers controlling differentiation and morphogenesis.