Presented by: 
Andras Czirok (University of Kansas Medical Center)
Mon 9 Feb, 2:00 pm - 2:45 pm
Mansergh Shaw Building (45), room 204

Cells facilitate large-scale tissue rearrangements during embryonic development: emergence of biological form and function is one of the oldest challenges of natural sciences. During embryogenesis genetic information does not encode cell behavior or organ anatomy as a blueprint. Rather, in many cases we are compelled to study emergent phenomena, where the large-scale behavior is a byproduct of the interaction among the cells and their extracellular matrix (ECM) environment. Time-lapse microscopy of early avian embryos reveal two fundamental aspects of morphogenesis: (i) cells may move relative to their immediate ECM environment, while (ii) the whole tissue may also be molded by cell-exerted mechanical forces (stresses) and their controlled dissipation/relaxation. Mathematical models suggest that collective cell movements involve an interplay between cell polarity (the direction of cell steering), physical displacements and mechanical linkage between adjacent cells. To generate tissue flow, cells may actively modulate their adhesion mechanics -- a process which yields an elasto-plastic material exhibiting autonomous shape changes. The synergy of computational and experimental data sheds light on the mechanisms underlying the development of the cardiovascular system: formation of the heart tube and the early vascular network.