Karen Kasza, Ph.D.
, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor, Columbia University
During embryonic development, groups of cells reorganize into functional tissues with complex form and structure. Tissue reorganization can be rapid and dramatic, often occurring through embryo-scale flows that are mediated by the coordinated actions of cells. In Drosophila
embryos, cell rearrangements in the epithelium rapidly narrow and elongate the tissue, doubling the length of the body axis in just 30 minutes. This type of tissue movement is highly conserved and can be driven by internal forces generated by cells or external forces from neighboring tissues. While much is known about the molecules involved in these cell and tissue movements, it is not yet clear how these molecules work together to coordinate cell behaviors and generate coherent movements at the tissue-scale. To gain mechanistic insight into this problem, my lab combines genetic and biophysical approaches with emerging optogenetic technologies for manipulating molecular and mechanical activities in cells with high precision. Kasza will discuss some of their lab's recent findings on how cell properties and interactions are regulated in the Drosophila embryo to allow (or prevent) rapid cell rearrangement and tissue flow during specific developmental events.