Dip’s paper shows that a transition in the behavior of progenitor cells from ordered to disordered motion helps vertebrates develop straight spines.
During normal development, the stream of progenitor cells much split evenly into the left and right paraxial mesoderm. Combining mathematical modeling with experimental data analysis Dip shows that depending on how much the individual cell follows their neighbors, the tissue dynamics may undergo a phase transition. Too much order makes it difficult for the tissue to split evenly between left and right leading to deformed spine. Too much disorder slows down spine elongation like cars switching lanes in a highway leading shorter spines. This work is a collaboration between our lab and the Holley lab. External link: Dev Cell