Scialog: Collaborative Teams - 2015
Quantitative Biology, Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory
Immersive DNA force sensors and predictive mechanical modeling for tissue morphogenesis
As we grow from a fertilized egg into a human being, our cells push and pull on one another, shaping our tissues, our organs, our bones, and our bodies. Unfortunately we don’t know much about how these microscopic forces, both within and between cells, allow large multi-cellular structures (like people) to develop.
Three scientists participating in an innovative research program have proposed an approach for measuring how the forces exerted by individual cells are able to mold bodily tissues into the desired three-dimensional shape.
Justin B. Kinney (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory); M. Lisa Manning (Syracuse University); and Margaret Gardel (University of Chicago) plan to construct small ``nanoprobes’’ out of DNA that can be inserted into developing tissues. These probes will then record the forces that different cells experience at different moments in time.
Currently there are methods for measuring the forces in tissues along two-dimensional surfaces. This new proposal, however, promises to enable such measurements in three dimensions. This would provide a critical advance for understanding how three-dimensional structures, such as organs, are formed. The trio will use the data this new method will produce to build 3D computational models that, guided by principles from theoretical physics, will provide insights into the process of tissue morphogenesis.