May 23, 2013

Heisenberg Review in this week’s edition of Cell

IST Austria Professor describes most recent advances in field of mechanical forces in morphogenesis

In this week’s edition of Cell (DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.008), Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, Professor at IST Austria, and Yohanns Bellaiche of the Institut Curie in Paris review most recent advances in how mechanical forces function in morphogenesis and pattern formation.

The study of forces in embryonic development reaches back into the 19th century, starting with the movement of the so-called Entwicklungsmechanik (developmental mechanics). In recent years, progress has come from advances in recording dynamic shape changes at high resolution and the development of biophysical tools, which have made possible new insights into the processes that generate forces and pass them on between cells. So-called molecular force sensors now make it possible to even see forces acting on specific molecules.

Heisenberg’s and Bellaiche’s extensive review provides an update and synopsis of recent developments, with a view to tackling the challenge lying ahead: integrating our knowledge of forces in morphogenesis to understand how forces function in embryonic development. Spanning an arc from forces in tissue self-organization, over force transmission between cells and in tissues, to the regulation of forces in differentiation, the scientists show how the interaction between mechanical forces and biochemical signaling orchestrates morphogenesis and pattern formation.



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