Biophysics Seminar: Kinneret Keren, Technion, Israel| Topological defects in the nematic order of actin fibers as organization centers of Hydra morphogenesis| Zoom

Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 12:15 pm
A free lecture open to the public.

Morphogenesis, the emergence of functional form in a developing organism, is one of the most remarkable examples of pattern formation in nature. Despite substantial progress, we still do not understand the organizational principles underlying the convergence of this process, across scales, to form viable organisms under variable conditions. We focus on the mechanical aspects of morphogenesis using Hydra, a small multicellular fresh-water animal, as a model system. Hydra has a simple body plan and is famous for its ability to regenerate an entire animal from small tissue pieces, providing a flexible platform to explore how mechanical forces and feedback contribute to the formation and stabilization of the body plan during morphogenesis. I will present our results showing that the nematic order of the supra-cellular actin fibers in regenerating Hydra defines a coarse-grained field, whose dynamics provide an effective description of the morphogenesis process. In particular, I will show that topological defects in the nematic order of the actin fibers act as organization centers of the morphogenesis process, with the main morphological features developing at defect sites. I will further present our recent studies on the establishment of body axis polarity in regenerating Hydra, showing that body axis determination is a dynamic process that involves mechanical feedback together with signaling processes.