Physical, biochemical and cellular mechanisms of gastrulation
I will use experimental tools available in C. elegans to determine the biochemical and cellular mechanisms by which
cells of various lineages accomplish gastrulation, and I propose to develop technology that will allow us to investigate the physical basis of gastrulation, by measuring the forces generated by the embryo during this process.
During embryonic development, various cellular behaviors are used to achieve diverse morphogenetic outcomes in different tissues and species. However, the extent to which diverse cellular behaviors can be used to achieve similar morphogenetic outcomes has not been explored. In C. elegans gastrulation, multiple cells move from the surface of the embryo to the interior. Endodermal precursors are known to internalize via apical constriction, and mesodermal precursors have been proposed to internalize via the same mechanism. However, preliminary results from our group indicate that some genes necessary for apicobasal cell polarity and apical constriction are required for internalization of endodermal, but not mesodermal precursors, raising the possibility that different cellular behaviors underlie these superficially similar morphogenetic movements. We have therefore begun to test hypothetical cell behaviors that could be responsible for the internalization of mesodermal precursors. Our preliminary data raise the possibility that cell migration, rather than epithelial-like apical constriction, leads of internalization of these cells. Our results identify different strategies for accomplishing similar morphogenetic movements in the context of a single embryo.
Honors and awards during Dan's postdoc:
Publications from Dan's postdoc so far: