Extrinsic and intrinsic controls of cortical flow regulate C. elegans embryogenesis

Speaker: Kenji Sugioka

Date: Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Location: Zoom, Online, PIMS, University of British Columbia

Conference: Mathematical Biology Seminar

Subject: Mathematics, Mathematical Biology

Class: Scientific


Cell division is a vital mechanism for cell proliferation, but it often breaks its symmetry during animal development. Symmetry-breaking of cell division, such as the orientation of the cell division axis and asymmetry of daughter cell sizes, regulates morphogenesis and cell fate decision during embryogenesis, organogenesis, and stem cell division in a range of organisms. Despite its significance in development and disease, the mechanisms of symmetry-breaking of cell division remain unclear. Previous studies heavily focused on the mechanism of symmetry-breaking at metaphase of mitosis, wherein a localized microtubule-motor protein activity pulls the mitotic spindle. Recent studies found that cortical flow, the collective migration of the cell surface actin-myosin network, plays an independent role in the symmetry-breaking of cell division after anaphase. Using nematode C. elegans embryos, we identified extrinsic and intrinsic cues that pattern cortical flow during early embryogenesis. Each cue specifies distinct cellular arrangements and is involved in a critical developmental event such as the establishment of the left-right body axis, the dorsal-ventral body axis, and the formation of endoderm. Our research started to uncover the regulatory mechanisms underlying the cortical flow patterning during early embryogenesis.