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Extracellular mechanical forces drive endocardial cell volume decrease during cardiac valve morphogenesis

Vermot J, Vignes H, Vagena-Pantoula C, Prakash M, Norden C, Jug F
bioRxiv. 2021;[preprint] doi:10.1101/2021.07.27.453460
Organ morphogenesis involves dynamic changes of tissue properties at the cellular scale. In addition, cells need to adapt to their mechanical environment through mechanosensitive pathways. How mechanical cues influence cell behaviors during morphogenesis, however, remains poorly understood. Here we studied the influence of mechanical forces during the formation of the atrioventricular canal (AVC) where cardiac valves develop. We show that in zebrafish the AVC forms within a zone of tissue convergence between the atrium and the ventricle which is associated with increased activation of the actomyosin meshwork and endocardial cell orientation changes. We demonstrate that tissue convergence occurs with a major reduction of endocardial cell volume triggered by mechanical forces and the mechanosensitive channels TRPP2/TRPV4. In addition, we show that the extracellular matrix component hyaluronic acid controls cell volume changes. Together, our data suggest that cell volume change is a key cellular feature activated by mechanical forces during cardiovascular morphogenesis. This work further unravels how mechanical forces and extracellular matrix can influence tissue remodeling in developing organs.
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