In this collaborative and interdisciplinary work, the Lenne and Lecuit groups analyze the physical mechanisms by which transient cellular forces can generate irreversible cell deformations during morphogenesis.

During epithelial morphogenesis, cells generate contractile forces by cyclically recruiting Myosin-II. In this work, we investigate how such transient forces are able to generate irreversible cell shape changes, with no or little elastic recoil when force generation stops. Analyzing the dynamics of deformation and Myosin-II activity, and applying external forces with optical tweezers, we show that cell contacts gradually “forget” their reference configuration by viscoelastic dissipation. This typically occurs on the minute timescale, and relies on the turnover Actin, which allows the cytoskeletal network to adapt to geometry changes.

To know more :