Active stress as a local regulator of global size in morphogenesis

Active stress as a local regulator of global size in morphogenesis
Friday 25th September 2015
Ambrosi, D.; Pettinati, V.; Ciarletta, P.
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While a general consensus exists that the morphogenesis of living organisms has its roots in genetically encoded information, there is a big debate about the physical mechanisms that actually mediate its control. In embryo development, cells stop proliferating at homeostasis, a target state in terms of physical conditions that can represent, for instance, the shape and size of an organ. However, while control of mitosis is local, the spatial dimension of a tissue is a global information. How do single cells get aware of that at the same time? Which is their communication mechanism? While morphogen factors are demonstrated to play a key role in morphogenesis, and in particular for shape emergence, they seem unable to produce a global control on size by themselves and, conversely, many recent experiments suggest that active mechanics plays a role. Here we focus on a paradigmatic larval structure: the imaginal disc that will become the wing of the fruit fly. By a formalization of theoretical conjectures in terms of simple mathematical models, we show that inhomogeneous stress, likely dictated by morphogenetic patterns, is an admissible mechanism to convey locally the global information of organ size.
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International Journal of Non-Linear Mechanics