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PLoS One. 2010 Dec 28;5(12):e15359. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015359.

Surprisingly simple mechanical behavior of a complex embryonic tissue.

Author information

1
Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America. mvondass@yahoo.com

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Previous studies suggest that mechanical feedback could coordinate morphogenetic events in embryos. Furthermore, embryonic tissues have complex structure and composition and undergo large deformations during morphogenesis. Hence we expect highly non-linear and loading-rate dependent tissue mechanical properties in embryos.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:

We used micro-aspiration to test whether a simple linear viscoelastic model was sufficient to describe the mechanical behavior of gastrula stage Xenopus laevis embryonic tissue in vivo. We tested whether these embryonic tissues change their mechanical properties in response to mechanical stimuli but found no evidence of changes in the viscoelastic properties of the tissue in response to stress or stress application rate. We used this model to test hypotheses about the pattern of force generation during electrically induced tissue contractions. The dependence of contractions on suction pressure was most consistent with apical tension, and was inconsistent with isotropic contraction. Finally, stiffer clutches generated stronger contractions, suggesting that force generation and stiffness may be coupled in the embryo.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:

The mechanical behavior of a complex, active embryonic tissue can be surprisingly well described by a simple linear viscoelastic model with power law creep compliance, even at high deformations. We found no evidence of mechanical feedback in this system. Together these results show that very simple mechanical models can be useful in describing embryo mechanics.

PMID:
21203396
PMCID:
PMC3011006
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0015359
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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