Intact-organism imaging of Drosophila larvae reveals and quantifies chromatin-aqueous phase separation. The chromatin can be organized near the lamina layer of the nuclear envelope, conventionally fill the nucleus, be organized centrally, or as a wetting droplet. These transitions are controlled by changes in nuclear volume and the interaction of chromatin with the lamina (part of the nuclear envelope) at the nuclear periphery. Using a simple polymeric model that includes the key features of chromatin self-attraction and its binding to the lamina, we demonstrate theoretically that it is the competition of these two effects that determines the mode of chromatin distribution. The qualitative trends as well as the composition profiles obtained in our simulations compare well with the observed intact-organism imaging and quantification. Since the simulations contain only a small number of physical variables we can identify the generic mechanisms underlying the changes in the observed phase separations.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Samuel Safran
- Samuel Safran
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Karsten Kruse, University of Geneva, Switzerland
© 2021, Bajpai et al.
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Cell-generated forces play a major role in coordinating the large-scale behavior of cell assemblies, in particular during development, wound healing, and cancer. Mechanical signals propagate faster than biochemical signals, but can have similar effects, especially in epithelial tissues with strong cell–cell adhesion. However, a quantitative description of the transmission chain from force generation in a sender cell, force propagation across cell–cell boundaries, and the concomitant response of receiver cells is missing. For a quantitative analysis of this important situation, here we propose a minimal model system of two epithelial cells on an H-pattern (‘cell doublet’). After optogenetically activating RhoA, a major regulator of cell contractility, in the sender cell, we measure the mechanical response of the receiver cell by traction force and monolayer stress microscopies. In general, we find that the receiver cells show an active response so that the cell doublet forms a coherent unit. However, force propagation and response of the receiver cell also strongly depend on the mechano-structural polarization in the cell assembly, which is controlled by cell–matrix adhesion to the adhesive micropattern. We find that the response of the receiver cell is stronger when the mechano-structural polarization axis is oriented perpendicular to the direction of force propagation, reminiscent of the Poisson effect in passive materials. We finally show that the same effects are at work in small tissues. Our work demonstrates that cellular organization and active mechanical response of a tissue are key to maintain signal strength and lead to the emergence of elasticity, which means that signals are not dissipated like in a viscous system, but can propagate over large distances.
Olfactory navigation is observed across species and plays a crucial role in locating resources for survival. In the laboratory, understanding the behavioral strategies and neural circuits underlying odor-taxis requires a detailed understanding of the animal’s sensory environment. For small model organisms like Caenorhabditis elegans and larval Drosophila melanogaster, controlling and measuring the odor environment experienced by the animal can be challenging, especially for airborne odors, which are subject to subtle effects from airflow, temperature variation, and from the odor’s adhesion, adsorption, or reemission. Here, we present a method to control and measure airborne odor concentration in an arena compatible with an agar substrate. Our method allows continuous controlling and monitoring of the odor profile while imaging animal behavior. We construct stationary chemical landscapes in an odor flow chamber through spatially patterned odorized air. The odor concentration is measured with a spatially distributed array of digital gas sensors. Careful placement of the sensors allows the odor concentration across the arena to be continuously inferred in space and monitored through time. We use this approach to measure the odor concentration that each animal experiences as it undergoes chemotaxis behavior and report chemotaxis strategies for C. elegans and D. melanogaster larvae populations as they navigate spatial odor landscapes.