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Using balloons and rubber bands to learn about inter-cellular bridges

      The proper functioning of multicellular systems often requires a high degree of coordination among the behaviors of individual cells. Such coordination arises from the ability of cells to communicate with each other. This communication is mediated by both mechanical and biochemical signals (
      • Bailles A.
      • Gehrels E.W.
      • Lecuit T.
      Mechanochemical principles of spatial and temporal patterns in cells and tissues.
      ,
      • Deneke V.E.
      • Di Talia S.
      Chemical waves in cell and developmental biology.
      ,
      • Gross P.
      • Kumar K.V.
      • Grill S.W.
      How active mechanics and regulatory biochemistry combine to form patterns in development.
      ). Among the biochemical signals that can drive this coordination, extracellular ligands are often implicated as mechanisms for long-range coordination (
      • Gilmour D.
      • Rembold M.
      • Leptin M.
      From morphogen to morphogenesis and back.
      ). However, in several biological contexts, most notably gametogenesis, cell-cell communication is ensured by the fact that cells remain physically connected via inter-cellular bridges (ICBs). ICBs are large enough to allow the movement of proteins across cells both by simple diffusion and by directed fluid flows (
      • Imran Alsous J.
      • Romeo N.
      • Martin A.C.
      • et al.
      Dynamics of hydraulic and contractile wave-mediated fluid transport during Drosophila oogenesis.
      ,
      • Haglund K.
      • Nezis I.P.
      • Stenmark H.
      Structure and functions of stable intercellular bridges formed by incomplete cytokinesis during development.
      ,
      • McLean P.F.
      • Cooley L.
      Protein equilibration through somatic ring canals in Drosophila.
      ). As a consequence, connected cells can exchange important components that can synchronize cellular dynamics, such as the cell-division cycle (
      • Doherty C.A.
      • Diegmiller R.
      • Shvartsman S.Y.
      • et al.
      Coupled oscillators coordinate collective germline growth.
      ). Thus, understanding the mechanisms of formation of ICBs is a central question in developmental biology. Yet, up to now, we lacked a physical understanding of how ICBs can form, how they can be stabilized, and how their size could be controlled. In this issue of Biophysical Journal, Singh et al. provide a biophysical mechanism of ICB formation and stabilization (
      • Singh J.
      • Alsous J.I.
      • Shvartsman S.Y.
      • et al.
      Mechanics of stabilized intercellular bridges.
      ).
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      References

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      Linked Article

      • Mechanics of stabilized intercellular bridges
          Singh et al.
        Biophysical JournalJune 30, 2022
        • In Brief
          Numerous engineered and natural systems form through reinforcement and stabilization of a deformed configuration that was generated by a transient force. An important class of such structures arises during gametogenesis, when a dividing cell undergoes incomplete cytokinesis, giving rise to daughter cells that remain connected through a stabilized intercellular bridge (ICB). ICBs can form through arrest of the contractile cytokinetic furrow and its subsequent stabilization. Despite knowledge of the molecular components, the mechanics underlying robust ICB assembly and the interplay between ring contractility and stiffening are poorly understood.
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