ERC Advanced Grant

Interaction and feedback between cell mechanics and fate specification in vertebrate gastrulation.

Embryogenesis is achieved by the close interplay between the gene regulatory networks that control cell fate specification and the physical processes by which the embryo takes shape. While each of these systems has been extensively investigated over the past decades, comparably little is yet known about how they functionally interact across different scales of organization within the physiological context of the developing embryo. The central aim of this project is to elucidate the fundamental principles underlying the interaction and feedback between cell mechanics and fate specification during vertebrate gastrulation. Using zebrafish as a vertebrate model organism, we explore how germ layer progenitor cell fate specification affects the physical processes by which the gastrula takes shape, and, vice versa, how alterations in cell/tissue mechanics feed back onto the gene regulatory networks and signals controlling progenitor cell fate specification during gastrulation. To dissect the fundamental mechanisms underlying this crosstalk, we combine genetic, cell biological and biophysical experimentation with mathematical modeling.

Project reference: 742573

Acronym: MECSPEC

Contract type: ERC Advanced Grant

EU contribution: EUR 2.306.862 EUR

Project programme: Horizon 2020 (EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Carl-Philipp Heisenberg

Team members:

Kornelija Pranjic-Ferscha (Senior Lab Technician)

Cornelia Schwayer (PhD)

Karla Huljev (PhD)

Alexandra Schauer (PhD)

Jana Slovakova (Postdoc)

Peng Xia (Postdoc)