EPJ E Highlight - Shocking embryonic limbs into shape

Mechanism of formation of an early vertebrate embryo. Each of the rings of cells in the round blastula (shown in colours) forms into a different part of the embryo or placenta.

Electrical stimulation of early chicken embryos has shed light on the process through which the limbs of all vertebrates are formed.

Every vertebrate, whatever its eventual form, starts embryonic life in the same way – as a hollow ball or disc of cells called a blastula. In theory, knowing the mechanism through which the blastula is formed into the shape of an animal could help correct defects and even, one day, regenerate body parts. But evolution and genetics are of little help in understanding this process. Now, however, Vincent Fleury and Ameya Vaishnavi Murukutla from Université Paris Diderot, Paris, France have used experiments with chicken embryos to propose a mechanism for vertebrate limb formation. These findings have been published in the journal EPJ E.

Fleury first suggested in 2005 that animal morphogenesis starts by parts of the round blastula being pulled out and deformed in a process that could be thought of as 'string pulling'. His group later showed that the blastula consists of a series of concentric rings, like Russian dolls, and that each forms a different part of the animal.

The novelty of the current study arises from the use of electric shocks to trigger limb formation much more suddenly and rapidly than in natural embryogenesis. The principle behind this is the same phenomenon of bioelectricity that was pioneered by the eighteenth-century Italian physician Galvani, who showed that an electric shock would stimulate even dead muscles into motion. In this study, the researchers extracted early chicken embryos from eggs, incubated them, applied an electric shock and observed them through a powerful microscope. The shock greatly accelerated the formation of the limb and tail buds. Therefore, Fleury and Murukutla were able to see the concentric rings making up the blastula deform in a cascade, with each one's deformation inducing the next to change shape. The authors suggest that knowledge of this phenomenon might eventually lead to the electrical engineering of the tissues of living animals, or of human patients.

This was our first experience of publishing with EPJ Web of Conferences. We contacted the publisher in the middle of September, just one month prior to the Conference, but everything went through smoothly. We have had published MNPS Proceedings with different publishers in the past, and would like to tell that the EPJ Web of Conferences team was probably the best, very quick, helpful and interactive. Typically, we were getting responses from EPJ Web of Conferences team within less than an hour and have had help at every production stage.
We are very thankful to Solange Guenot, Web of Conferences Publishing Editor, and Isabelle Houlbert, Web of Conferences Production Editor, for their support. These ladies are top-level professionals, who made a great contribution to the success of this issue. We are fully satisfied with the publication of the Conference Proceedings and are looking forward to further cooperation. The publication was very fast, easy and of high quality. My colleagues and I strongly recommend EPJ Web of Conferences to anyone, who is interested in quick high-quality publication of conference proceedings.

On behalf of the Organizing and Program Committees and Editorial Team of MNPS-2019, Dr. Alexey B. Nadykto, Moscow State Technological University “STANKIN”, Moscow, Russia. EPJ Web of Conferences vol. 224 (2019)

ISSN: 2100-014X (Electronic Edition)

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