A cell-based boundary model of gastrulation by unipolar ingression in the hydrozoan cnidarian Clytia hemisphaerica

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In Cnidaria, modes of gastrulation to produce the two body layers vary greatly between species. In the hydrozoan species Clytia hemisphaerica gastrulation involves unipolar ingression of presumptive endoderm cells from an oral domain of the blastula, followed by migration of these cells to fill the blastocoel with concomitant narrowing of the gastrula and elongation along the oral-aboral axis. We developed a 2D computational boundary model capable of simulating the morphogenetic changes during embryonic development from early blastula stage to the end of gastrulation. Cells are modeled as polygons with elastic membranes and cytoplasm, colliding and adhering to other cells, and capable of forming filopodia. With this model we could simulate compaction of the embryo preceding gastrulation, bottle cell formation, ingression, and intercalation between cells of the ingressing presumptive endoderm. We show that embryo elongation is dependent on the number of endodermal cells, low endodermal cell-cell adhesion, and planar cell polarity (PCP). When the strength of PCP is reduced in our model, resultant embryo morphologies closely resemble those reported previously following morpholino-mediated knockdown of the core PCP proteins Strabismus and Frizzled. Based on our results, we postulate that cellular processes of apical constriction, compaction, ingression, and then reduced cell-cell adhesion and mediolateral intercalation in the presumptive endoderm, are required and when combined, sufficient for Clytia gastrulation.




van der Sande, M., Kraus, Y., Houliston, E., & Kaandorp, J. (2020). A cell-based boundary model of gastrulation by unipolar ingression in the hydrozoan cnidarian Clytia hemisphaerica. Developmental Biology, 460(2), 176–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2019.12.012

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