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Cell-sorting at the a/p boundary in the Drosophila wing primordium: a computational model to consolidate observed non-local effects of hh signaling


Schilling, S; Willecke, M; Aegerter-Wilmsen, T; Cirpka, O A; Basler, K; von Mering, C (2011). Cell-sorting at the a/p boundary in the Drosophila wing primordium: a computational model to consolidate observed non-local effects of hh signaling. PLoS Computational Biology, 7(4):e1002025.

Abstract

Non-intermingling, adjacent populations of cells define compartment boundaries; such boundaries are often essential for the positioning and the maintenance of tissue-organizers during growth. In the developing wing primordium of Drosophila melanogaster, signaling by the secreted protein Hedgehog (Hh) is required for compartment boundary maintenance. However, the precise mechanism of Hh input remains poorly understood. Here, we combine experimental observations of perturbed Hh signaling with computer simulations of cellular behavior, and connect physical properties of cells to their Hh signaling status. We find that experimental disruption of Hh signaling has observable effects on cell sorting surprisingly far from the compartment boundary, which is in contrast to a previous model that confines Hh influence to the compartment boundary itself. We have recapitulated our experimental observations by simulations of Hh diffusion and transduction coupled to mechanical tension along cell-to-cell contact surfaces. Intriguingly, the best results were obtained under the assumption that Hh signaling cannot alter the overall tension force of the cell, but will merely re-distribute it locally inside the cell, relative to the signaling status of neighboring cells. Our results suggest a scenario in which homotypic interactions of a putative Hh target molecule at the cell surface are converted into a mechanical force. Such a scenario could explain why the mechanical output of Hh signaling appears to be confined to the compartment boundary, despite the longer range of the Hh molecule itself. Our study is the first to couple a cellular vertex model describing mechanical properties of cells in a growing tissue, to an explicit model of an entire signaling pathway, including a freely diffusible component. We discuss potential applications and challenges of such an approach.

Non-intermingling, adjacent populations of cells define compartment boundaries; such boundaries are often essential for the positioning and the maintenance of tissue-organizers during growth. In the developing wing primordium of Drosophila melanogaster, signaling by the secreted protein Hedgehog (Hh) is required for compartment boundary maintenance. However, the precise mechanism of Hh input remains poorly understood. Here, we combine experimental observations of perturbed Hh signaling with computer simulations of cellular behavior, and connect physical properties of cells to their Hh signaling status. We find that experimental disruption of Hh signaling has observable effects on cell sorting surprisingly far from the compartment boundary, which is in contrast to a previous model that confines Hh influence to the compartment boundary itself. We have recapitulated our experimental observations by simulations of Hh diffusion and transduction coupled to mechanical tension along cell-to-cell contact surfaces. Intriguingly, the best results were obtained under the assumption that Hh signaling cannot alter the overall tension force of the cell, but will merely re-distribute it locally inside the cell, relative to the signaling status of neighboring cells. Our results suggest a scenario in which homotypic interactions of a putative Hh target molecule at the cell surface are converted into a mechanical force. Such a scenario could explain why the mechanical output of Hh signaling appears to be confined to the compartment boundary, despite the longer range of the Hh molecule itself. Our study is the first to couple a cellular vertex model describing mechanical properties of cells in a growing tissue, to an explicit model of an entire signaling pathway, including a freely diffusible component. We discuss potential applications and challenges of such an approach.

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11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Molecular Life Sciences
Special Collections > SystemsX.ch
Special Collections > SystemsX.ch > Research, Technology and Development Projects > WingX
08 University Research Priority Programs > Systems Biology / Functional Genomics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:19 Apr 2011 08:57
Last Modified:04 Jul 2016 13:29
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1553-734X
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002025
PubMed ID:21490725
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-47937

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