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A neural crest cell isotropic-to-nematic phase transition in the developing mammalian gut

Abstract : Abstract While the colonization of the embryonic gut by neural crest cells has been the subject of intense scrutiny over the past decades, we are only starting to grasp the morphogenetic transformations of the enteric nervous system happening in the fetal stage. Here, we show that enteric neural crest cell transit during fetal development from an isotropic cell network to a square grid comprised of circumferentially-oriented cell bodies and longitudinally-extending interganglionic fibers. We present ex-vivo dynamic time-lapse imaging of this isotropic-to-nematic phase transition and show that it occurs concomitantly with circular smooth muscle differentiation in all regions of the gastrointestinal tract. Using conditional mutant embryos with enteric neural crest cells depleted of β1-integrins, we show that cell-extracellular matrix anchorage is necessary for ganglia to properly reorient. We demonstrate by whole mount second harmonic generation imaging that fibrous, circularly-spun collagen I fibers are in direct contact with neural crest cells during the orientation transition, providing an ideal orientation template. We conclude that smooth-muscle associated extracellular matrix drives a critical reorientation transition of the enteric nervous system in the mammalian fetus.
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https://www.hal.inserm.fr/inserm-03271227
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Submitted on : Friday, June 25, 2021 - 2:48:07 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - 5:13:19 PM

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Nicolas Chevalier, Yanis Ammouche, Anthony Gomis, Lucas Langlois, Thomas Guilbert, et al.. A neural crest cell isotropic-to-nematic phase transition in the developing mammalian gut. Communications Biology, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 4 (1), pp.770. ⟨10.1038/s42003-021-02333-5⟩. ⟨inserm-03271227⟩

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