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Global cell sorting in the C. elegans embryo defines a new mechanism for pattern formation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Ralf Schnabel, Marcus Bischoff, Arend Hintze, Anja-Kristina Schulz, Andreas Hejnol, Hans Meinhardt, Harald Hutter

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4D microscopic observations of Caenorhabditis elegans development show that the nematode uses an unprecedented strategy for development. The embryo achieves pattern formation by sorting cells, through far-ranging movements, into coherent regions before morphogenesis is initiated. This sorting of cells is coupled to their particular fate. If cell identity is altered by experiment, cells are rerouted to positions appropriate to their new fates even across the whole embryo. This cell behavior defines a new mechanism of pattern formation, a mechanism that is also found in other animals. We call this new mechanism "cell focusing". When the fate of cells is changed, they move to new positions which also affect the shape of the body. Thus, this process is also important for morphogenesis.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-31
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2006

    Research areas

  • Animals, Body Patterning, Caenorhabditis elegans, Cell Lineage, Cell Movement, Embryo, Nonmammalian, Microscopy, Models, Biological

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