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Cell Adhesion and Cell Fate: An Effective Feedback Loop During Zebrafish Gastrulation

Vanessa Barone

Vanessa Barone
University of Sydney


Abstract

Cell-cell contact formation constitutes the first step in the emergence of multicellularity in evolution, thereby allowing the differentiation of specialized cell types. In metazoan development, cell-cell contact formation is thought to influence cell fate specification, and cell fate specification regulates cell-cell contact formation. However, remarkably little is yet known about whether and how the interaction and feedback between cell-cell contact formation and cell fate specification affect development. By using a combination of theoretical modeling and experimentation, we identify a positive feedback loop between cell-cell contact duration, morphogen signaling and mesendoderm cell fate specification during zebrafish gastrulation. This feedback loop determines whether anterior axial mesendoderm cells become prechordal plate progenitors or, instead, turn into endoderm progenitors, revealing that cell fate diversification within the developing embryo is controlled by the interdependent activities of cell-cell signaling and contact formation.