Abstract: The central question I will discuss is how collective signalling oscillations encode information during embryonic patterning. In the context of mouse embryo segmentation, three major signalling pathways (Notch, Wnt and Fgf) show oscillatory activities (period ~2hrs). Strikingly, these signaling oscillations occur highly coordinated in neighbouring presomitic mesoderm (PSM) cells, leading to the appearance of spatio-temporal waves traversing the PSM.
To address the working principles and function of collective oscillations, we developed an entrainment approach that enables us to experimentally control signalling oscillations, i.e. its phase and frequency. We use this strategy to first probe the fundamental synchronization behaviour of cells along the PSM. Moreover, we use entrainment to specifically address the function of oscillation dynamics during segment patterning. I will discuss our findings that support a functional role of the relative timing, or phase-shift, between Wnt/Notch signaling oscillations in controlling embryonic patterning in time and space.
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