Our group is interested in studying how the behaviors of individual cells contribute to the development of tissue pattern. We use the fruit fly, Drosophila Melanogaster, as a model organism alongside genetics, microscopy, and quantitative analyses to ask questions like:
How do cells communicate with each other during patterning events?
How does cell shape and movement affect cell-cell communication?
Are there rules that individual cells follow to make fate decisions during patterning?
How do these processes contribute to the self-organization of the tissue?
A ROLE FOR ACTOMYOSIN CONTRACTILITY IN NOTCH SIGNALING
The mechanism of Notch activation requires a force producing step. We wondered whether the activity of non-muscle myosin II on the actin cytoskeleton, which can produce forces in cells, played a role in this process. Using the developing fly bristle pattern and tools in cell culture, we find that myosin II activity is important for normal Notch signaling and pattern formation.
Hunter et al, 2019 BMC Biology
A NEW MECHANISM FOR SPATIAL PATTERN FORMATION VIA LATERAL AND PROTRUSION-MEDIATED LATERAL SIGNALLING
(Collaboration) Cells in an epithelium have been observed to contact each other via long, cellular protrusions. Here, we developed a mathematical model of bristle pattern formation, which requires these protrusions, in order to explore the impact of protrusion mediated signaling in parallel with signaling between adjacent cells. We find that protrusions can help generate many types of patterns, in addition to mediating long-range signaling.
Hadjivasiliou et al. 2016 JRS Interface
COORDINATED CONTROL OF NOTCH-DELTA SIGNALLING AND CELL DIVISION AIDS LATERAL INHIBITION MEDIATED TISSUE PATTERNING
What 'locks in' a pattern as it develops? Here we found that cells communicating to each other during bristle patterning are only allowed to signal to each other until they divide into two daughter cells. The Notch signaling that occurs is linked to the progression of the cell cycle. We used genetics and mathematical models to show that if you unlink these two processes, the pattern is disrupted.
Hunter et al, 2016 Development
AN ABSOLUTE INTERVAL SCALE OF ORDER FOR POINT PATTERNS
(Collaboration) How would you quantify a pattern's organization or disorganization? A method to quantify patterns was developed by our collaborators and they applied their method to our data on bristle patterns. We show that bristle patterning progresses from a disordered state to a highly ordered state.
Protonotarios et al, 2014 JRS Interface
ION CHANNELS CONTRIBUTE TO THE REGULATION OF CELL SHEET FORCES DURING DROSOPHILA DORSAL CLOSURE
How do noisy, individual cell behaviors coordinate to drive a smooth, robust, tissue movement? We identified several genes encoding channel subunits associated with mechanically gated ion channels that regulate cell shape and tissue tension generation during a morphogenetic process in fruit fly embryogenesis.
Hunter et al, 2014 Development