Wednesday, 29th January 2020

Development and Regeneration

        Cellular Dynamics during morphogenesis







Nicole Gorfinkiel







Research summary:

Schematic representation of the different stages of Dorsal Closure (dorsal view). Arrows indicate the different forces contributing to the process: the apical contraction of the AS generates a force that positively contributes to closure (red arrows) while the epidermis resist the dorsalward movement (blue arrows). A supra-cellular actin cable that forms at the interface between the AS and the epidermis also contributes to closure.

Quantitative analysis in 2D of AS morphogenesis. Panel (1): Contraction of the AS during Dorsal Closure. Cellular membranes are labelled with E-Cadherin-GFP. Panel (2): Automatic tracking of AS cell interfaces during Dorsal Closure. Panel (3): Automatic tracking of AS cell areas during Dorsal Closure.




During embryonic development, groups of up to thousands of cells exhibit coordinated movements and deformations that eventually give rise to the complex three dimensional structures of organs and organisms..

The extraordinary development of microscopy techniques and the posiibility to follow morphogenetic processes in vivo using a variety of fluorescent reporters make now posible to visualize andquantify molecular, celular and tissue processes in real time. These novel approaches are starting to reveal the DYNAMICS ofdevelopmental processes and are revolutionizing the field of Developmental Biology. Moreover, mechanics –forces, motions andelasticity- has emerged as an important player during collective cell movements. One of the challenges in the área of morphogenesis isto understand how the interaction between biochemical and mechanical processes at different temporal and spatial scales gives rise tothe activity of tissues.

Research in my lab tackles these questions using the process of Dorsal Closure in Drosophila, a morphogenetic process that has emerged as a reference for the study of more complex processes occuring in vertebrates such as neural tuve closure and wound healing. DorsalClosure is the porcess whereby interactions between two epitelial tissues, the epidermis and the amnioserosa contribute to generate thefinal shape of the Drosophila larvae. We use a combination of live imaging, quantitative image analysis, theoretical modeling, ingenetically and mechanically perturbed embryos to approach these problems

Work in the lab is organized along the following areas:

1) To understand the molecular and celular mechanisms underlying apical contraction in AS cells.

2) To understand how AS cells coordinate this activity accross the whole tissue.

3) To understand how tissue mechanical properties emerge from the activity of its constituent cells.



Latest publications:

  • Gorfinkiel, N. 2013. Mechano-chemical coupling drives cell area oscillations during morphogenesis. Biophys Journal 104: 1-3. Invited review
  • Lada, K., Gorfinkiel, N. and Martinez Arias, A. 2012. "Interactions between the amnioserosa and theepidermis revealed by the function of the u-shaped gene". Biology Open 1: 353-361.
  • Gorfinkiel, N.* and Blanchard, G*. 2011. Dynamics of actomyosin contractile activity during epithelial morphogenesis. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 23: 531-9. * corresponding authors
  • Blanchard, G. B., Murugesu, S., Adams, R. J., Martinez Arias, A. and Gorfinkiel, N.* 2010. Cytoskeletal dynamics and supracellular organisation of cell shape fluctuations during dorsal closure. Development 137,2743-2752. corresponding author
  • Gorfinkiel, N.*, Blanchard, G. B., Adams, R. J. A. & Martinez-Arias, A. 2009. Mechanical control of global cell behaviour during Dorsal Closure in Drosophila. Development 136, 1889-1898. * corresponding author.



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