2021 journal article
A mechanical model of early somite segmentation
IScience, 24(4), 102317.
<h2>Summary</h2> Somitogenesis is often described using the clock-and-wavefront (CW) model, which does not explain how molecular signaling rearranges the pre-somitic mesoderm (PSM) cells into somites. Our scanning electron microscopy analysis of chicken embryos reveals a caudally-progressing epithelialization front in the dorsal PSM that precedes somite formation. Signs of apical constriction and tissue segmentation appear in this layer 3-4 somite lengths caudal to the last-formed somite. We propose a mechanical instability model in which a steady increase of apical contractility leads to periodic failure of adhesion junctions within the dorsal PSM and positions the future inter-somite boundaries. This model produces spatially periodic segments whose size depends on the speed of the activation front of contraction (<i>F</i>), and the buildup rate of contractility (Λ). The Λ/<i>F</i> ratio determines whether this mechanism produces spatially and temporally regular or irregular segments, and whether segment size increases with the front speed.