University of Notre Dame
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Tissue-Level Communication Through Patterning of Intercellular Ca2+ Wave Dynamics
Identification of the cell-cell communication mechanisms that integrate information at multiple hierarchical scales from cells to the whole organism is a grand challenge for developmental biology with broad implications in regenerative medicine. In particular, how some organs can recover from wounding and repair tissue patterning is still largely a mystery. Once critical component during wound healing and regeneration is the regulation of calcium (Ca2+) ions, which are second messengers that integrate information from multiple signaling pathways. Here we characterize periodic intercellular Ca2+ waves (ICWs) in a model organ system of epithelial growth and patterning – The Drosophila wing imaginal disc. We developed a novel regulated environment for micro-organs (REM-Chip) device that enable a broad range of genetic, chemical and mechanical perturbations during live imaging and have created an image processing pipeline to analyze Ca2+ dynamics. We propose that the patterning of ICWs reflects underlying morphogenetic patterning of developing tissues and that the ICWs provide information transmission between compartments within the physiological mechanism for coordinating cellular activity and could form a plausible distributed backup memory system for patterned epithelia during development and wound healing. Integrative mechanistic insight into the cross-talk between Ca2+ and morphogen signaling pathways will have a broad range of medical applications including for diagnostics and therapeutics.