Understanding the formation of embryonic shapes is one of the fundamental themes in developmental biology and an important challenge in order to better understand developmental pathologies. Posterior axis elongation is a major morphogenetic event that produces the typical head-to-tail elongated body shape of vertebrate embryos. Axis elongation involves the three germ layers of the embryo: the ectoderm, the mesoderm, and the endoderm. However, while the mechanisms of tissue elongation have mostly been studied in separate tissue types, the principles allowing for the coordination of elongation between tissues and between germ layers remain largely unknown.
Ongoing work- Emerging Team :
Using transgenic quail embryos that ubiquitously express a nuclear fluorescent protein and time-lapse imaging we recently analyzed and compared different tissue movements in the elongating embryo. This approach allowed us to demonstrate that embryonic elongation is defined by the coordination of distinct tissue-specific behaviors and extensive sliding between tissues. Further quantification of tissue tectonics showed tissue-specific patterns of rotations, contractions and expansions. By using a combination classical embryological techniques, live imaging, image analysis and mathematical modeling we are currently exploring the links between cell behaviors and tissue deformations. This multidiciplinary approach will allow us to decipher how cellular behaviors are coordinated in space and time to build the future organs in the embryo.