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Quantification of cell behaviors and computational modelling show that cell directional behaviors drive zebrafish pectoral fin morphogenesis

Dokmegang, Joel and Nguyen, Hanh and Kardash, Elena and Savy, Thierry and Cavaliere, Matteo and Peyriéras, Nadine and Doursat, René (2021) Quantification of cell behaviors and computational modelling show that cell directional behaviors drive zebrafish pectoral fin morphogenesis. Bioinformatics. ISSN 1367-4803

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Abstract

Motivation: Understanding the mechanisms by which the zebrafish pectoral fin develops is expected to produce insights on how vertebrate limbs grow from a 2D cell layer to a 3D structure. Two mechanisms have been proposed to drive limb morphogenesis in tetrapods: a growth-based morphogenesis with a higher proliferation rate at the distal tip of the limb bud than at the proximal side, and directed cell behaviors that include elongation, division and migration in a nonrandom manner. Based on quantitative experimental biological data at the level of individual cells in the whole developing organ, we test the conditions for the dynamics of pectoral fin early morphogenesis. Results: We found that during the development of the zebrafish pectoral fin, cells have a preferential elongation axis that gradually aligns along the proximodistal axis (PD) of the organ. Based on these quantitative observations, we build a center-based cell model enhanced with a polarity term and cell proliferation to simulate fin growth. Our simulations resulted in 3D fins similar in shape to the observed ones, suggesting that the existence of a preferential axis of cell polarization is essential to drive fin morphogenesis in zebrafish, as observed in the development of limbs in the mouse, but distal tip-based expansion is not. Availability: Upon publication, biological data will be available at http://bioemergences.eu/modelingFin, and source code at https://github.com/guijoe/MaSoFin. Contact: joel.dokmegang-kassap@stu.mmu.ac.uk, nadine.peyrieras@cnrs.fr or rene.doursat@iscpif.fr Supplementary information: Supplementary data are included in this manuscript.

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