Probing embryonic tissue mechanics with laser hole drilling

Phys Biol. 2009 May 1;6(3):036004. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/6/3/036004.


We use laser hole drilling to assess the mechanics of an embryonic epithelium during development-in vivo and with subcellular resolution. We ablate a subcellular cylindrical hole clean through the epithelium and track the subsequent recoil of adjacent cells (on ms time scales). We investigate dorsal closure in the fruit fly with emphasis on apical constriction of amnioserosa cells. The mechanical behavior of this epithelium falls between that of a continuous sheet and a 2D cellular foam (a network of tensile interfaces). Tensile stress is carried both by cell-cell interfaces and by the cells' apical actin networks. Our results show that stress is slightly concentrated along interfaces (1.6-fold), but only in early closure. Furthermore, closure is marked by a decrease in the recoil power-law exponent, implying a transition to a more solid-like tissue. We use the site and stage dependence of the recoil kinetics to constrain how the cellular mechanics change during closure. We apply these results to test extant computational models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Patterning / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Drosophila / embryology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Epithelium / embryology*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lasers*
  • Microscopy, Video
  • Morphogenesis*