Mechanical feedback and robustness of apical constrictions in Drosophila embryo ventral furrow formation


Formation of the ventral furrow in the Drosophila embryo relies on the apical constriction of cells in the ventral region to produce bending forces that drive tissue invagination. In our recent paper we observed that apical constrictions during the initial phase of ventral furrow formation produce elongated patterns of cellular constriction chains prior to invagination and argued that these are indicative of tensile stress feedback. Here, we quantitatively analyze the constriction patterns preceding ventral furrow formation and find that they are consistent with the predictions of our active-granular-fluid model of a monolayer of mechanically coupled stress-sensitive constricting particles. Our model shows that tensile feedback causes constriction chains to develop along underlying precursor tensile stress chains that gradually strengthen with subsequent cellular constrictions. As seen in both our model and available optogenetic experiments, this mechanism allows constriction chains to penetrate or circumvent zones of reduced cell contractility, thus increasing the robustness of ventral furrow formation to spatial variation of cell contractility by rescuing cellular constrictions in the disrupted regions.


© 2021 Holcomb et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Mesoderm, Mechanical Stress, Drosophila melanogaster, Cell Disruption, Control Theory, Ellipses, Optogenetics, Precursor Cells


Holcomb MC, Gao G-JJ, Servati M, Schneider D, McNeely PK, Thomas JH, et al. (2021) Mechanical feedback and robustness of apical constrictions in Drosophila embryo ventral furrow formation. PLoS Comput Biol 17(7): e1009173.