Genetics of female reproductive longevity
August 4, 2021Read more
Using a combination of mechanical tools, the physical properties of the vitelline membrane were studied. This membrane provides key support to the developing avian and reptilian embryos. It was found that the early chicken embryo requires a reducing tension from the vitelline membrane to develop properly. This study provides an example of extraembryonic regulation of development via tissue forces.
Kunz, D, Wang A, Chan CU et al. Downregulation of extraembryonic tension controls body axis formation in avian embryos. Nature Communications 14, 3266 (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-38988-3.
Embryonic tissues undergoing shape change draw mechanical input from extraembryonic substrates. In avian eggs, the early blastoderm disk is under the tension of the vitelline membrane (VM). Here we report that the chicken VM characteristically downregulates tension and stiffness to facilitate stage- specific embryo morphogenesis. Experimental relaxation of the VM early in development impairs blastoderm expansion, while maintaining VM tension in later stages resists the convergence of the posterior body causing stalled elongation, failure of neural tube closure, and axis rupture. Biochemical and structural analysis shows that VM weakening is associated with the reduction of outer-layer glycoprotein fibers, which is caused by an increasing albumen pH due to CO2 release from the egg. Our results identify a previously unrec- ognized potential cause of body axis defects through mis-regulation of extraembryonic tissue tension.