It was a cloudy day at Kent Ridge, the train station closest to the thematic meeting. Nevertheless, everyone seemed bright and ‘ready to go’ at the Mechanobiology of Disease thematic meeting. Attendees gathered promptly, waiting for session 7 to kick off.
Thomas Lecuit had come to discuss about Biomechanical Control of Tissue Morphogenesis. The main question was to understand how/why epithelial cells exhibit the remarkable dual property of robustness and fluidity. An array of approaches were used from the genetic and pharmacological perturbations of molecular components, the quantitative imaging of proteins using a variety of photonic methods, probing of the physical properties of cells within intact tissues, and computational modelling of morphogenesis at different scales (molecular to tissue scales) to figure that a novel GPCR signalling pathway was responsible for the phenomena.
Timothy Saunders soon followed, with Muscle Specification in the Zebrafish Myotome. The talk explored how cell fate differentiation in the developing zebrafish myotome, where different muscle types (muscle pioneers, slow muscle fibers and fast muscle fibers) are located, differentiated from adaxial cells. Live imaging of zebrafish myogenesis with cell tracking and lineage analysis was done to develop four-dimensional maps of the developing somite. The take home message was that robust cell fate specification in the myotome is effectively dependent on biomechanical processes as well as chemical signaling.
Next, Lars Dietrich continued with the session by describing the Interplay between Morphology and Metabolism in Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Biofilms. The fascinating part was about how Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses phenazine as a mode of sensing oxygen availability and modulates its structure based on that. Much work had been put to characterize endogenous electron acceptor production, by developing a chip that allows electrochemical detection and spatiotemporal resolution of phenazine production in situ.
After the talk, attendees were asked to pose for a group photo before proceeding for coffee break! And the networking continued…
After the networking session, we carried on with session 8. Carl-Phillip Heisenberg kicked off the session with The Physical Basis of Coordinated Tissue Spreading in Zebrafish Gastrulation. The talk focussed on how doming, a process involving coordinated epithelial surface cell layer expansion and mesenchymal deep cell intercalations, occurs. The take home message was that coordinated tissue expansion and thinning during doming relies on surface cells simultaneously controlling tissue surface tension and radial tissue contraction.
Stuti K. Desai soon followed with SsrB as a Driver of Lifestyle Changes in Salmonellae. The talk mainly focussed on the sessile lifestyle of Salmonella which involved the activation of the expression of the master regulator of biofilm formation. Some interesting moments from the talk centred on how Salmonella formed a biofilm around solid tumours and this caused them to regress. Thus, suggesting that biofilms could have an anti-cancer effect!
Lastly, Andrew W. Holle came on to wrap up session 8 with how Cancer Cells Sense and Respond to Their Mechanical Environment during Confined Invasion. In this work, different cells were put through Microchannels with widths between 3 and 10 μm and lengths over 150 μm. The invasive patterns in these different cell lines and tissue origins were tracked. The take home message was that could be a mechanosensing period in which the cell determines the channel to be too narrow for mesenchymal-based migration, reorganizes its cytoskeleton, and proceeds using an amoeboid.
With that, session 8 had to come to an end to pave way for a sumptuous lunch and networking! Poster session attendees were anxious for the final session which was just about 2-3 hours away! I met good friends by this time and was eagerly looking forward to securing a full table at the banquet which was to be held at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club later that evening!